Finding Fabiola*

            After Francis Alÿs

Her eyes: distant gaze
Virgin cheek beneath
A faint smile hovering
Head: draped with pomegranate veil
in profile

A petrel in flight may take the form of a crooked cross
A riddle might become a labyrinth,
fumbling round corners in search of a single answer

                                                            What might Fabiola be?

A portrait in oil or beans, needlepoint, ceramics—
copy of an unseen saint she (Fabiola)
herself a canvas
of mercy? Pardon?
Her face might echo a mother’s, a look
from a kind nurse or beloved sister
Fabiola might offer a promise to women
with no escape:
I will not silence you
though the world turns away

Fabiola            Fabiola                        Fabiola
painted prayers
Face beside veil beside face beside
divine red flowing through
            gallery                        after gallery
three hundred and seventy histories
found in her visage

*Born into a Roman patrician family, Fabiola (d. 399) was a follower of the Catholic Saint Jerome and is recognized as the patron saint of the widowed and the abused.

Catherine Fletcher is a poet and an editor for Rattapallax. Her work has appeared in journals such as Poetry Wales, The Raconteur, and The Offing, among others, and she has performed at venues in the United States, Mexico, and India. She lives in New York City.

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