Ash Wednesday

for Beth Gylys

Beth's porcelain forehead is smudged
with a priest's faded fingerprint,
as if she were a turned page,
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.

Collin Kelley, from Slow To Burn


Kate Evans said…
I love the leaps this poem makes. The end brings it all together with the stigmata image.

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