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