Thursday, February 23, 2012

Writing With Ashes

I returned home last night, post-Ash Wednesday and a challenging sermon by Michelle, to meet my daily quota of words--as I had risen early to prepare a talk and drink coffee.  But I had found no single minute since to commit a solitary thought to the page.

Home at last, I met my wife coming in the door after her own ferociously long day and she commented on my ashes.  We kissed.  And then we both said simultaneously, "I have more work to do!"

I set out to revise several poems that I hoped to perfect and submit for publication by the weekend, listening to the steady tap-tap-tap of my wife's laptop in the living room as she worked on toward 10:00 p.m.

But as I thought about those ashes still on my forehead, I found myself digging back into my voluminous pile of ancient verse and discovered this sonnet I had long forgotten about.  In the spirit of work and rest and renewal, perhaps it pffers a few decent thoughts.  I assume I wrote these lines.  But I sure can't recall the time or place (though, according to the file date, I wrote this one in 2010).


Had we lived in some distant century
Our path, our world, would have been dimmed by night
With half the day unfit for work or sight
And each decision lorded by decree.

 Our work would be the candle and the flame,
The full week’s labors lifted up by song
In search of food and water, and the long
Return back home to where kin knew our name.

The only true insurance was the spear
And any scratch or madness led to death.
The span of life was like an evening’s breath
And creature comforts were the hearth and beer.

So few there were who lived to dark and gray
When all was superstition and decay.

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