branch cold dawn evening
           Ash Wednesday 2021      
Byron Hoot
I will wear no cross of ashes upon
my forehead, may bear a slight 
enmity to those who do
the act, the mark a statement
of who's in, who's out,
the beginning of Lent a time
of giving something up in mockery
of what Jesus said was the only 
sacrifice to give -- your life
to the mystery of the unknown 
not in some eternity but
here and now, moment-by-
moment, the urgency of redemption
nothing if not immediate.

How curious liturgical time:
44 days ago a birth,
44 days from now a death.
How curious 33 years wrapped
within 88 days.   Such a mystery 
cannot be contained,
adequately expressed by ashes
in the shape of a cross on the forehead.

There's something in the air.
The sun has chosen a handful
of diamonds in the snow to show,
the urge for Spring like a prisoner
set free, the ambivalent prayer
of freedom --"My God, why have 
you forsaken me?"  and the answer
three days from its echo.
It is Ash Wednesday.