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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 15: Sept. 2022
Prosimetra: 397 words
Heavenly Hybrid*
By Hazel Hall

A Question of Faith


with my inner self
big questions—
quick-quizzing answers
yet to come

I’ve booked in for a philosophy workshop. My friend Thomas scoffs. So you’re off on another of your wild goose chases, he says. I ignore him. Saturday morning finds me at the hall door armed with lunch and writing gear.

The facilitator gives me a little velvet bag filled with concept cards, and says, Take one and write about it. Do not discuss your choice with anybody.

Why do I choose faith? The quality I envy most in others? Each time I try to practise faith a curtain falls over all inspiration and it takes me on a journey through skepticism. My heart begins to yo-yo. What to write? Be methodical. First, try to define the topic. The thesaurus brings up trust, hope, belief, conviction. Not much help. Looking around, a sea of dismayed faces suggests that I’m not the only one. Have we all been given the same wretched concept? Perhaps Tom was right.

quo vadis—
searching for
the Appian Way

I think about the Shroud of Turin, considered a holy relic by the faithful. How, on researching its origin, the journalist William West grappled with see-sawing answers. How Pope Francis urged the faithful to consider it with awe. How very recent scientific dating appears to support the Shroud’s authenticity. Will evidence reappear in the future to quash all hope?

a quartet
of documentaries
the levels
of intensity
in a director’s quest

Was it created by natural light? I think of an artist friend who prints exquisite images using sunlight and moonlight. Or was it created transphysically? The church would like us to believe it is real and consistent with biblical accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection. Or are we to believe that Da Vinci created his own photograph?

the way we need
to verify faith
with proof

a piece of cloth held sacred

if not genuine
does it matter?

Perhaps faith is like the Shroud, sent to test me. Shall I sit in a dark room with my negatives for ever? Or develop and print them? Many prayers remain unanswered. Then a series of small miracles appear like quicksilver. I remind myself that Jesus held doubts and discarded them. Pick up the pen. Begin to write.

knowing that I’m
still learning to know
I choose belief



—Finalist in “The Question of Questions” Ekphrastic Writing Challenge


Author’s Note:

These references were accessed variously from 5-20 August 2022:

  1. New Scientific Test Dates Shroud of Turin to the Time of Christ’s Death by Andrea Morris, CBN News (23 April 2022);
    Ms. Morris was reporting on the research article by Liberato De Caro et al. in Heritage (11 April 2022):
    X-ray Dating of a Turin Shroud’s Linen Sample

  2. Was the Shroud’s First-Century Origin Really Debunked? (“New Exposé Reveals Carbon Dating Labs’—and Church’s—Errors and Contradictions”) by Jim Bertrand, Inside the Vatican magazine (May/June 2021)

  3. Shroud of Turin at Wikipedia

  4. How did the Turin Shroud get its image? at BBC.com (19 June 2015)

  5. Shroud of Turin, BBC TV documentary posted to YouTube in 2021, but filmed in 2008

[Links above were tested on 11 September 2022.]


*Publisher’s Note:

Because I’m fond of hybrid short forms such as prose poems, haibun, cheribun, and tanka prose, I was delighted to see “A Question of Faith” entered in MacQ’s latest writing challenge. And I’ve dubbed this tanka prose poem as a “heavenly hybrid,” in part because it includes not only two tanka verses but also two senryu, and a cherita variation, interspersed throughout the prose. Much gratitude to Ms. Hazel Hall for contributing this out-of-the-ordinary piece to MacQ!

Hazel Hall
Issue 15, September 2022

is a poet and musicologist who is well published in Australia and internationally. Her collections include Step By Step: Tai Chi Meditations (Picaro Poets, 2018), Moonlight over the Siding (Interactive Press, 2019), Severed Web (Picaro Poets, 2020), and a verse drama, Please Add Your Signature and Date It Here (Litoria Press, 2021). Her sonnet collection A Hint of Rosemary is forthcoming.

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