Ash Wednesday Thirteen Ways

by Rebecca Fullan

Spoon in Bowl of Raw Sugar

Anger the beginning
and end
of my observance.

In Granada, we caramelized
sugar in our spoons over
an open flame. Took
what remained
on the underside and crossed
each other’s foreheads, laughing
laughing.

Someone is running
in the subway station
along the dangerous
caution yellow, like it’s
a track, singing. I want
them to stop.

Today I notice especially
the Jewish men
with beards and hats
and yarmulkes. The choice
they are making or
not-making
every day.

Behold, behold,
behold, behold—
to look, to take
in fingers, to put
in mouth, to swallow
to smear on face,
Oh Lord. I am
beholden.

I have never trusted
a priest with
my whole heart,
not one.

The priest who marks me
is an old man, but looks
strong. Remember you are
dust and to dust
you shall return. He smiles
with great kindness, as though
this news is welcome, as though
it is what I have been waiting for. And it is.
It is.

I present myself in ice,
hoping to be melted.
Someday the sun
will eat the earth, you know,
in its death pains.
In its growing.

Oh, what a fool
he is, to speak
of a small church, a pure
church. There is no small-
and-pure, O papa,
there is only your flesh
and my flesh being one
flesh that is Christ’s flesh,
and isn’t that just
the worst? Aren’t we just
fucked by it, you and I, doesn’t it
make you
laugh?

On television, the whales
are having the most beautiful
hunt I have ever seen.
It is a dance.
The whales circle,
and sing the herring
right into their mouths.

At church I often think
that people will shout at me,
attack. Also on the street,
sometimes, on the subway,
at night, when the door to my
room is locked.

Jesus,
I want you
to love me enough
to leave me alone,
and to want me enough
to bother the hell
out of me. I present you
with a note: Do you
like me? Check yes
or no. I spend my evening
smudged
and scribbling.

Dolphins throw themselves
into the air to say things,
and whales sing all
together. I watch.
The ash on my forehead
itches. Gladness comes.

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