Ashes

for Merry


(photo by Austin Ban)

The season of deafening silence began in this way:
(For each of the decades of silence, a single day)
She pressed her ash-smudged forehead against my lips
Leaning in for a kiss
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
Hlasta! Quetis Ilfirimain...

But our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost;
We are cut off utterly.
We cannot hope to turn again,
Or, indeed, to turn at all;
Dum spiro spero's sad corollary counterweight.

And if we have hoped in Christ in this life only,
We are of all men the most to be pitied.
But in fact, the Word intrudes:
"You shall know that I am Yahweh
I will open your graves
And put my Spirit within you
And you shall live."

From one degree of glory to another:
May my ash-smeared lips proclaim such truth
In unsilenced joy into ages everlasting.



~~~~

Hlasta! Quetis Ilfirimain is the final line of the first song in the Fellowship of the Ring, Quenya for "Listen! It speaks to those who were not born to die."

Dum spiro spero is Latin for "While I breathe, I hope."

Other references: T. S. Eliot's Ash Wednesday, Ezekiel 37, 1 Corinthians 13, 2 Corinthians 3.

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