Bruised Apples: My First Ash Wednesday

I have no priest, but I am dust.

My palm reaches into the rusting chiminea

For ash.

I wondered if it might be wet,

From yesterday’s storm,

But rain never came,

Just lightning.


I found a lump in my breast last night.

This morning the kids moaned about the small bruised apples.

They refused to put them in their lunches.


I held my blackened finger up to the March morning,

Walked to the hall mirror,

Then smudged my forehead out of longing

For nails, wood, blood, and black.


Without a liturgy, I make one.

I belong to the body

(A ceremony-hungry Protestant)

Where we ache to be less

In a world weighing so much.


I want my kids to know

We’re all bruised,

None of us fit to be consumed.

Feeling the lump of an unknown breaking in my tissue

Tells me I am dust, but grace comes for us all.

Father, we are not fit to be called your children because we are feeble, dying creatures. Yet, you loved. You loved us out of shame and called us blessed. Today we remember You formed us from dust, and to dust we will return. We cry out from the strange community and comfort knowing there’s a holy ache throbbing within millions of chests around the world. We walk forth, marked as your children, for all to see the dust you have saved.


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March 1, 2017