Ash Wednesday: A Prayer

These ashes feel silly, black strips of cracked grease
smeared on my forehead, like a child’s paint
Am I not a man with days ahead?
Am I not a god until I’m dead?

O Lord, these ashes are flung to the dusk
forgotten and hated specks of mud
hurled at the sun, in spite and scattered
and where are you? and does that matter?

if these ashes are winning, I am sunk in death
my breath damp-dry, my cough unending
weighed and buried in long black robes:
the rocks and bones my clothes

And yet I hope to turn again
from this dead soil to greener patch
still me now and at the ceasing of my breath
and resurrect these ashes from their death


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