Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

A solemn expression before we enter
Catholic Mass.

Slip a skinny finger
into the golden bowl at the door.

Take water with you
and bow before Jesus.

One knee strikes the red carpet.
Just like Gramma showed you to.


Our finger touches
the head,
right then, left shoulder.

A kiss for a thumb
crossed over.

There is a place next to Gramma waiting

Kneeling and whispering in Spanish
She sounds stronger than ever

More serious than
when she asked me limpa la casa.

Clasped are her hands,
a white rosary between them.

A black lace mantilla
covers her silver hair-

four flames burn blue
for Grampa and three of her children gone.

The head and heart of her life.

She touches a finger to
her head
right then left shoulder.

A kiss for a thumb
crossed over.

Gramma looked to the Priest,
her hands sit still in her lap.

Her posture does not slant,
she is radiant

as we stand
and receive repentance.

We’ll follow Gramma up there,
She is

crossed over
with ashes of yesteryear’s palm fronds.

As a solemn society,
we are the heart

from here to

until the cross over
on Ash Wednesday.

Rest in peace, Juanita Gonzales Valenzuela


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