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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 15: Sept. 2022
Prose Poem: 140 words
Sequence, Micro-Poems: 253 words
Prose Poem: 119 words
By Linda Nemec Foster

[Turin Shroud Triptych]



Before the three women entered the dark tomb, it was quiet—so quiet. Not even the dry air weaving around the low hills of Jerusalem offered any sound. No hint of birdsong at dawn. No hint of leaves rustling on their thin branches. Only a flash of light—an angel, a man, a combination of both—told them not to worry. Showed them the long shroud, folded neatly ... as if a mother had carefully washed it. The rest of the place was empty. Except for them and the angel/man and the clean laundry. The women didn’t bother to look closely at the stretch of white linen. They thought it was empty, like a blank canvas. They didn’t notice the haunted face, the perfect image of arms and legs and torso, the quite tiny aperture that admitted the Light.

The Making of the Shroud: Fourteen Visions
(After the Fourteen Stations of the Cross)
The Conviction 

Before his dark face 
was on any piece of cloth, 
he was a convict 

The Shoulders 

His shoulders carry 
the weight of hard olive wood 
the borders of shroud 

The First Fall 

Not Adam, but him 
pound of dust, pound of flesh, and 
how much blood to spill 

His Mother 

Not one word was shared 
between them. Not one, soft sound. 
Her quandary? Love 

The Kindness of Strangers 

Q. Who is this strange man? 
A. Simon of Cyrene, a face 
in the crowd. Here ... gone 

Veronica Wipes His Face... 

and it leaves a face 
on her cloth, a small shadow—
the small shroud waiting 

The Second Fall 

He falls again and 
this time, no strangers to help 
no mom. But his cross 

The Women of Jerusalem 

Oh women of fear, 
don’t quake, don’t shed your tears now. 
Just wait for the light 

The Third Fall 

And another time. 
Yet again. The cross and man 
fall as if they’re one 


Ready for death, he 
needs no clothes but the shroud waits 
its turn quietly 

The Hammer and Nails 

I can’t imagine 
this scene. Can’t imagine the 
pain. His mother’s face 

The Death 

Before the end, words 
to his executioners 
and that quite good thief 

The Taking Down 

Removing the dead: 
a play in four acts—father, 
mother, son, and ghost 

The Tomb 

The tomb is waiting. 
The shroud covers what is left. 
Now, the faith, the doubt 


Who can begin to explain what we want to believe in? What is true and what is false? And how is each mythology created, destroyed, and resurrected again? The face on an ancient cloth can be our deepest longing that someone will love us forever, that pure light can create anything and overcome any darkness. All I know is that in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy there is a faded cloth. It measures 14.5 feet by 3.7 feet and has the negative imprint of a man somehow, somehow created on it. Meanwhile, my son is alive on the other side of the world. It’s night where I am, but he’s already in tomorrow.



—Triptych is a Finalist in “The Question of Questions” Ekphrastic Writing Challenge.

Linda Nemec Foster
Issue 15, September 2022

is the author of 12 published collections of poetry, including Amber Necklace from Gdansk (a finalist for the Ohio Book Award in Poetry; Louisiana State University Press, 2001), The Lake Michigan Mermaid with Anne-Marie Oomen (2019 Michigan Notable Book; Wayne State University Press, 2018), The Elusive Heroine: My Daughter Lost in Magritte (Cervena Barva Press, 2018), Talking Diamonds (New Issues Press, 2009), and Listen to the Landscape (Eerdmans Publishing, 2006). Her most recent poetry book, The Blue Divide, was published in 2021 by New Issues Press. And her next collection, Bone Country, is forthcoming in 2023.

Ms. Foster’s work has appeared in more than 350 magazines and journals such as The Georgia Review, New American Writing, Nimrod, North American Review, Quarterly West, Paterson Literary Review, Witness, and Verse Daily. Her poems have also been published in anthologies in the U.S. and Great Britain, and translated in Europe. Collaborations with visual artists, musicians, and composers have brought her poetry to new venues and audiences. It has been exhibited in museums and galleries, set to music, produced for the stage, and nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Ms. Foster has won several Editor’s Choice Awards in the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Contest sponsored by The Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College and Paterson Literary Review. She has been honored with awards from the Arts Foundation of Michigan, ArtServe Michigan, the National Writer’s Voice, and the Academy of American Poets. She is the founder of the Contemporary Writers Series at Aquinas College, and was the first Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan (serving from 2003-2005). In 2015, she was honored by the Dyer-Ives Foundation for her poetry and advocacy of the literary arts in Michigan. In the fall of 2019, she was a guest lecturer in contemporary American poetry and literature at the University of Bielsko-Biala in Poland. In the summer of 2022, Ms. Foster was awarded second place in the Fish Flash Fiction Prize, with publication of her story “On the Other Side of the World” in the Fish Anthology 2022. This international honor also included an invitation to read at the West Cork Literary Festival in Ireland.

Author’s website: www.lindanemecfoster.com

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Featured Guest: Linda Nemec Foster on Rattlecast 157 hosted by Tim Green, editor of Rattle poetry journal (YouTube, 29 August 2022)

Personal Diary: Same Day, Same Month, Different Year, microfiction by Ms. Foster in Coal Hill Review (Issue 29, Spring 2022)

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