Ash Wednesday

I squat beside a smoldering bin
where serpents of smoke
snake up from gravely burning
palm branches into air,
gravelly and gray.

Praise and adoration
burn so easily! – so quickly turn
to nothing, to smoke
and ashes, rising
on a breath of wind.

I stir the fire with a stick,
piercing it in the side.
The smoke brings tears to my eyes.
I turn aside for breath.

This corpse is me, these ruins mine.
My prayers are smoke,
rising on a breath of wind.

Spread my ashes, Jesus,
in the garden where you
always wait for me,
pray for me, long for me.

I am sorry. My sorriness is smoke,
rising into the air, into your prayer.
My sin is ashes, burned up in your love,
rising on a breath of wind. Gone.

All has turned to nothing
and a breath of wind, fresh,

Listen to the audio version:

Ash Wednesday

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
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