Ash Wednesday

By Angelica Parker


Blasted apart from church and rock,

there’s nothing for me here

but the drag of school classes and a missed bus to my church service.


My friends planned on making dates, as though

this was Valentine’s Day.  And God,

how I miss the rain, because all I can see is snow.


My lungs are lined with ash,

in every shape but a cross, my foot

crushed into damnation and my roses splattered on linoleum.

I forgot it wasn’t Valentine’s Day,

that I should devour dust,

instead of cream-filled chocolate.


I don’t have a ribcage, I have a cross

whittled from bone and a trachea

baptized by my priest. And

I have a mind,                   I swear I do.

It’s like God, I guess.

I can’t see it, but

I think I believe in it.

It’s in there somewhere

pressing against my eyes from the inside,

like a bouquet,

like a garden in the greenhouse of my skull.

Behind the criss-crossing asphalt roads of ash             that should

be smeared on my forehead.


I went to the service last year, wore the cross

like a staple or a sign,

a neon blaze of Catholicism,

charring my skin into disbelief.

I scrubbed it off in the sink,

like a baptism,

and wondered if I was right.


Maybe I wasn’t committed enough.


I was the type to stay up till midnight,                     technically Thursday,

and break the fast with food

that tasted so much more.

Like the lack had blessed it,

broken it open.

Food may not get better with age,


I swear to God, it gets better

with waiting.


Angelica Parker is a sophomore creative writing major at Interlochen Arts Academy from Manton, Michigan, and a poetry editor for The Interlochen Review. She is the winner of a Gold Key, three Silver Keys and an honorable mention from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for her poetry. She has also placed first in regionals for the Patriot’s Pen Essay contest. Her work has appeared in the Red Wheelbarrow and on Teen Ink’s website. Her inspiration tends to do that, just appear magically; under coffee tables and in a good Radiohead song. You know how people can see Jesus or the Virgin Mary in toast? She can do that with her inspiration, especially if she has spread the cream cheese on her blueberry bagels in a particularly artful manner.