portion of the artwork for Marcia LeBeau's poem

Ash Wednesday
Marcia LeBeau

Scurrying toward Penn Station, I pass a man in a trench coat smoking
a cigarette talking on a cell phone, two gray smudges
on his forehead. I remember my sister in her peach plaid

“Queen of the Universe” school uniform, giggling without a thought
at the cross on her forehead. She had been paraded to mass
where she genuflected, imitated the prayer. Loving the comfort of ritual,
she was confused by the simplicity

of other churches. Far from Catholic, we were raised
nothing. At the dedication of her school, I followed
family friends up to the altar, a thin white moon
placed on my tongue. I slipped

the circle into my pocket and fingered it
until later in the church basement drinking red punch
and eating stale cookies, I showed it to my mother—all sweaty and rolled
into a paper spit ball. Oh, my God, she whispered.

Now, I step on the escalator conveyor-belting us down to darkness
and trains, looking mainly at foreheads. Who here loves the body
of Christ? Who here knelt down long enough to drop coins
into a clanging cup that might mean missing the 6:18?

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 47 | Spring 2016