Ash Wednesday

Written on Ash Wednesday 2009 (for the uninitiated, Ash Wednesday is the day that marks the beginning of Lent, more often than not by marking the parishioner's forehead with ash in the shape of a cross) during a sermon. Basically, this poem sums up what I, as a practicing Catholic, think of the season of Lent, and how important it is in my life.

Slight references to Andrew Marvell and T. S. Eliot (I might even consider changing the title, considering *he* has a poem titled Ash Wednesday too..

(Father forgive them, He cried,
once upon a dying clime.
They know not…)

Dry ash fell upon her eyes,
smarting them shut.
In the stinging blindness,
she Saw
what she had done.

--

(Remember, Woman.
Dust thou art,
To dust thou shalt return.
And it is dust
that blushes golden
in thy womb)

What is it to me
whether the bones of my father
lie putrid beneath six feet of earth
or in the golden urn that dances to
Mother Ganga's gamboling ripples.

Either way,
he has come Home.

Either way,
somewhere a patch of earth brings forth fruit that's
ripe to bursting
because his dying remains
were scattered there.

I returned home
whistling a song.

The land where the dead fail to decompose
is land that lies barren and dying.

--

(I bowed to Him and kissed His feet.
Lord, pray tell,
What must I call Sacrifice?)

Tarry not Beloved, I said
Time’s winged chariot
waits for none.

Hurry.
Split open my wrist.
Dig your fingers deep beneath parched veins.
Grab hold of the crimson dust that was once
my fresh blood.
Smear it upon the parting in her hair.

Make her yours before
The shadow of my greed blackens you both.

Do not tarry.
Do not wait.
Do not open your mouth to thank me.
It will only ruin the spell.

(He said:
Sacrifice is
to let no one see
The ashes on your head)

(I say, it is
to not need to say I forgive you
Out loud for the world to hear)

--

(He who has died to himself, He said,
He whose sins are crushed to powder:

Let him be the first
To cast a stone)

She gazed upon her reflection
and Saw.

The bones of her fathers,
Crushed by time and
Sins long forgiven,
branded the seal of salvation
Upon her head.

She smiled
having realised
what faith is.

(He does not condemn thee.
He never has.
He only asks
that you believe)

--

The End

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