Ash Wednesday


Bethlehem, PA - Photo by Walker Evans - Nov 1935 from the Library of Congress FSA collection

We search the windblown fields, and the coal dark forests. Stand on the edge of wide oceans of tears, and rend our clothes.

It’s been 50 years, and we still don’t know her name.

“Calcium”, the wind whispers.

Waves lick at the shore, tires wash up on the rocky beach. I put a bottle to my mouth to keep the fire inside.

The broken windows of the mills peer down, the blackened hulks of the furnaces turn a darker shade of rust. Lives poured like molten steel from the ladles, and love flamed red around the edges. In less than a century it all fell dark. Now only the weeds remember.

In hot Latin countries penitents still beat their backs with branches, until drops of blood bloom like roses. Here the flowers push their heads through the concrete, and declare their victory.

No longer watched, the gates lean on their hinges. Three generations passed through and never returned. Their sins remain only as rumors.

The roofs collapse, the concrete cracks, not even the pigeons come here anymore. In the end, there is only bone and sky.

The fire gone, the night cold,
I kneel on the ground, and stir the ashes.

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13 thoughts on “Ash Wednesday

  1. wow, that’s intense. so many amazing lines, but i can’t get over this one: “In hot Latin countries penitents still beat their backs with branches, until drops of blood bloom like roses.”

    drops of blood bloom like roses! wow!

    • Thanks! I rewrote that line 5 times last night before I found a way to express that image. I think it’s my favorite too.

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