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On this triptych we have three saints,
———————–on this one three stories.
Sometimes they knew each other,
———————–but usually not.

In what order do we view them? The paint
that was once wet changed almost immediately
to a color different from itself. It has been chipping
for seven centuries as if it, also, is
dissatisfied with the miracle.

————————————Here is a single portrait,
a monostich of a life,
but surely there was once a mother next to him,
who sometimes rubbed his shoulders when he couldn’t sleep,
or friends who wished him safety
on his last, dusty journey.
Now they are just blank walls, the empty space
not even framed by light.

I would rather contemplate the unrecorded dead.
Just their absence is revelation
of a holy mystery. Just as on either side

of this line is something so profound it can’t be said.

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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