Ash Wednesday
for Beth Gylys

Beth's porcelain forehead is smudged
with a priest's fading fingerprint,
as if she were a page being turned,
the sins of Tuesday flipped to penitence.
She reads a poem about Madonna,
who lost her religion years ago,
dabbles in others for the perfect fit,
some organization to contain her
oversized soul.

It's 4702 by the Chinese calendar,
so happy new year.
I'm no spring chicken, not even a rooster,
but I've been called a cock a time or two.

I died in a dream this morning,
my car skidding on ice, going over
a guardrail, my arms spread wide,
my mouth an O in the rearview mirror,
my chest tight, heart in spasm,
then defibrillated by waking.

They've painted over the red walls
in Tina's old fifth floor apartment,
a flat white, taking the blood out.
Careers and tears came and went,
along with a line of dancing girls
who had no rhythm.
No good memories linger here,
and I'm moving soon.

As I'm putting up a poetry flyer
on the lobby bulletin board,
deciding what to give up for Lent,
the pushpin sticks my thumb,
white lines smeary with ink,
almost breaks the skin, almost bleeds.

– from Slow To Burn


Karen J. Weyant said…
I saw Beth read a long time ago at Penn State DuBois (in the back country of northern PA!) I love her work!
Lisa Allender said…
Coll, as I read this, I am wiping the smudge of Ash Wednesday from my own forehead.
I love this poem; thanks for the sweet reminder...
I responded on my blog to your posted comment.
DeadMule said…
Collin, I was about to tell you I like this, when I got sidetracked and went to Lisa's blog and considered the various combination of Democrats, any of which I will vote for. Back to the poem: I love the ending. It's honest.
Anonymous said…
you know what im going to say about this poem because i have said it before. I don't totally "get it". Maybe its because im a hellbound atheist.

Pris said…
Collin, excellent poem. I love the nuances and the moving from space to space throughout.
love it - nice!
Cheryl said…
Subtle and lovely, this.
Dustin said…
I've always enjoyed this poem.

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