What withered thumb marks the
ash on my temple,
streaking the remains of
his perishing flesh? I cannot
call his name — indeed,
it would steal my breath.
Neither crucifix nor holy
stain, his dust does not
stir lenten requiems, but rather
dark and furled refrains that
bounce against these sacred walls.
That is not all — he leaves
me smoke, bitter incense without
the chants; I kneel in wait,
but I do not pray. I do not sing —
in truth, I can’t. His mossy teeth
protect no tongue, and his hand,
it marks my face with ash. Silently,
he reaches near to enfold me in
his perishing flesh.