Ash Wednesday

The rush and the splash of God’s breath
play on his face
like the face of the waters,
ruah—cold like the ocean and swift! she lifts
the skirt of a scapular, worn at the hem,
ruffles the ears of her poodles.

Rushing-spirit of God! rushing
like reeds rush, hushed rustle
in the needles and fingers of the Jerusalem cedar,
hovering over the face
of a spilt-coffee puddle,
stirring the heft of the grass-blades.

I was restive and willing myself to feel her,
willing and wishing and longing and craving
for silence and stillness and air
but my heart was made brittle, like waxwork
cast in an imperfect mold.

Wind through the bricks, wind
through the gaps in the moulding.
How can the breath of God batter my soul?
My heart beats, that same beat,
like the hand quivers on a stopped clock,
forever 12:00.

This is day 1 of Labia Munda, a series of forty poems during the forty days of Lent. 

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