It is as much art as science
this work of restoration;
layer upon layer,
centuries lie heavily upon
drawn faces,
soot and smoke
of the burning years and
lives become ash;
the exhalations of the pious and
the penitent
darken even God’s face,
leaving the rest unrecognizable.

It is the gentlest whisper of a hand
that brushes away the darkening
stain of time and…
revealing bright eye and pale cheek
the illusory sparkle of an eternal virgin
her innocence preserved in the face of all assault.

The work progresses
one can see that she was always there,
that she lived in this canvas,
flat and shaded for a time,
quietly waiting for dawn to steal in by hours
bringing with it birdsong and warmth
both forgotten in the night.

Such a work of art is not to be lost.
Not forever.