Poetry: The Preacher’s Thumb on Ash Wednesday

Photo by Grant Whitty on Unsplash

My trembling finger once marked a woman

in a year I knew would end the ritual 

of her annual ash.

‘Remember you are dust…”

I faltered on the rest.

Do doctors feel so transgressive

when they are forced to break 

the polite illusion of immortality?

We all know it’s not true.

Death haunts our every move.

But to say it is to invoke a power

that explodes us, rending, rendering

us mere motes, mere mortals,

merely, awfully human.

She did not quail. She bore with dignity

her sentence. And I went on to mark

my son, my daughter, my wife.

Damn my quailing thumb of ash!

Smudge every living thing with truth!

Until we yield

and dissipate,

scattered to a life unknown.

–Alex Joyner

One response to “Poetry: The Preacher’s Thumb on Ash Wednesday”

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