cotton sky, wet cracked concrete.
something reaches out.
i tell our story:
shocking cold in the morning,
reaching back for you.
arm stretched, shoulder turned
now how open is my hand?
pink curling the trees.
prayer for lent
my grandmother was the kind of catholic
who watched mass on tv
when she got too old to make it to church.
her ziplock bag
of souvenirs from the vatican
arrived on ash wednesday.
almost precisely a year since she died.
i’m holding this
too big to wear cross
pink roses and green
i wish she could come
to my church.
it was the easter
she careened her lincoln
into the church parking lot,
railing against the pope’s policies and
barely missing several children,
that i knew.
that i knew i wanted to live there
in the stained glass shadowed pews,
in the candle light and incense.
i was the one child praying
that mass would never end.
thirty one years later
i make the sign of the cross
on a woman’s forehead:
to dust you shall return.
the ash won’t wipe off my hands.
may your irreverence
and your faith
in the morning strained light
oil and ash brush your forehead.
welcome to the wilderness
of a wednesday in berkeley
bikes and semis
screaming down shattuck avenue.
stop for a second.
feel the concrete and the dirt underneath.
we are all passing away
at light speed. faster than the transmission
of the digital neurons we are decomposing.
daily lattes and pilates will not save us.
when you stumbled into the kitchen an hour ago
already late and you forgot
what you had gone in there for
what did you do?
what do you remember about tuesday?
the fight with your boss
or the moment you glanced through the window
and watched a mother tie her toddler’s shoe?
remember you are dust
particles flying around the wheels
of the sedan turning up addison.
i see your prayer in your clenched eyes.
you will return to the beige fabric cubicle
and the grocery list,
but right now feel it.
feel the earth’s crust crack a little.
god is stretching toward us
no one knows what you will decide
about lunch or jesus.
i pray for your safe steps down to the platform.
you will forget about the ash til
you look in the neon lit cafe mirror,
that’s what those glances were for.
please don’t wash it off.
here’s something i wrote published in Episcopal Cafe: