a poem for Ash Wednesday

Carl_Spitzweg_003[1]

Babylon*

There is sadness enough for everyone here,
so some of us gather and stack fuel for funeral fires
that we build and stoke on patient bluffs
above the muddy river.
Then in copper and wicker we remove the black ash
for the scrubbing of our earthen cookware
and the cleansing of our mortal souls.

Others–with a gift for this–rehearse the silence
known beneath desert sand and under pasture grass
and vineyard plantings
and high above earth’s jumble and tin: silence
like an unheard rebound off the skin of a drum
rippling with joy to flood the wadis in the wilderness
and the crevices of the human brain.

Others are assigned to walk, head bowed,
hands folded and still, behind the stirring clop and ruffle,
colors, troops and beasts, of military parades
and holiday advancements;
while quiet others wander softened valley floors,
patrolling the shadows of foreign mountains
that rise and step aside above us.

*this poem was published in The Anglican Theological Review in 2010

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