POETRY: Ash Wednesday, by Anya Silver

How comforting, the smudge on each forehead:
I’m not to be singled out after all
From dust you came. To dust you will return.
My mastectomy, a memento mori,
prosthesis smooth as a polished skull.
I like the solidarity of this prayer,
the ointment thumbed into my forehead,
my knees pressing hard on the velvet rail.
If God won’t give me His body to clutch,
I’ll grind this soot into my skin instead.
If I can’t hold the flame that burned my breast,
I’ll char my brow; I’ll blacken my pores; I’ll flaunt
with ash this flaw in His creation.

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