Ash Wednesday


The priest dips his fingers, makes a cross

on my grandmother’s forehead.

She smells like face powder,

L’aire du Temps, her fragrance.


I once asked her

where they got the ashes,

imagining priests with cigars

emptying sacred ashtrays

into a special chalice.


“You know the little crosses

from Palm Sunday?” she said.

“They burn them for Ash Wednesday.”



Now I imagine a great room

filled with palm crosses 

once worn by old ladies in church clothes

who brought back the tidily tied

frond crosses pinned by the priest

at the 7am service.


All the holy days

all the old ladies kneeling and praying

the old prayers learned by rote

when they were young girls

remembering to save

their palm cross for next year


Posted in response to the Daily Post’s Fragrance prompt

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