Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday March 4, 2019
Curl the fingers to brush back bangs
Consider the vast bald blank canvass
The tiny head in the crook of daddy’s arm
The elder, furrowed and somewhat dry
The youth, oily and acned
The head of shame, bowed but present
The face of pride, confident that others are more mortal
The heads not there
The heads not in the game
The eyes caught emotional and weeping
The eyes averting, too much soul to bear
The ashes, crumbled, crumbling
Caught under finger nails and creased into flesh
Flickering over noses
Or smeared in too much pressed olive life
The small bowl
Some frankly infused oil
Ashes of last year’s palms

Moving along the altar rail, there I am

speaking again and again

To child and friend and lover and foe
Remember you are dust
To dust you shall return
That simple stark beauty of imposing ash
writing them on all those foreheads
from heads at death’s door
to heads recently emerged from the womb.
The cartography of our mortality is intangible dust.

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