Ash Wednesday by Natalie Homer

Ash Wednesday

Dull February, and the dry lilac begs to be cut.
Another window of opportunity I’ll recognize and let pass.

This whole winter has been a false spring;
hopeful daffodil leaves test the air with green fingers.

Is the function of the pew kneeler to hurt me
just enough that I wish the prayer to be over?

I accept my smeared gray diadem, my memento mori.
Some messages need no dedications.

I think of the road in the woods
and the bend, the curve like any other

except in this one: mattresses, tires, and trash
piled next to an otherwise scenic creek

cascading over rocks—geometric sheaves of falling water
on its way to a sickly stretch of Monongahela.

Who decided this particular bend in the road
would be the best repository? And who followed suit?

Later, in a different context, an answer comes,
with the reckless confidence that only men have—

That’s the way it’s been done for thousands of years.
Who am I to argue with the millennia?


Natalie Homer’s recent poetry has been published in Puerto del Sol, American Literary Review, Four Way Review, Ruminate, Sou’wester, and others. She received an MFA from West Virginia University and lives in southwestern Pennsylvania. Her first collection, Under the Broom Tree, is forthcoming from Autumn House Press.

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