These ashes belong to some generation
that inherited the fire we lit this morning.
Last Easter’s palms, wrinkled and darkened
light easily with a wooden match,
until we sift the remains into bowls with oil
to rub upon our memories, our losses, our regrets.
You might kneel today and the priest smudge your forehead
while the ash bends into your mind
so you can see again the brevity of your thoughts,
how they come and go, linger and slip away.
This ash upon you welcomes those who stand guard
in spiritual assurance; perhaps, your mother and father,
your grandfather, the first poem by your grandmother,
supporting your intentions, your need to kneel.
There is a time to kneel, whether to give thanks or weep:
close to the earth you can hear water and heat below;
the ground you rest upon is held deep in liquid,
and your body too, rivers held by skin and bone.
Someday the water in us will be free, and our minds, too, will flow
into the great galaxy of love and hope, where we might bless
our children and grandchildren as they kneel, remembering and knowing
they are fire, water and ash. There is a power, a healing, in that:
to know the mind of love is the string of the universe to which we are attached.
Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon