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In urn
on wind
'cross field
crushed into pigment
fixed upon the forehead as a sign;


What remains.
The essence of substance.

This spent matter,
this human residue,
flakes, layer in layer,
reminds us of colors once
greater within,
of flaming mind, of rising desire,
of tongues of light dancing behind furnace door eyes.

This ash we honor, this symbol of life full circle,
is not the simple flesh played out.
The only real fuel is spirit,
the explosive “I am” that flares and burns when brought to life,
incarnate. Being,
by truly being we exhaust the world in
holy fire. Yet

even the greatest cry belched from the volcanic heart of the earth,
from the ancient portal of eternal recompense,
soon falls into twilight and is buried
in the silence of so much sullied snow,
scorched on the edges,
to become a blanket
that nourishes only over the long run.

Each clipping of ash, each moment consumed, creates
a special pattern upon the skin
that cannot be repeated.
A fingerprint of temporal flight
whispering one transcendent, transitory word:


Ash © 1998 by Tobin James Mueller
"Ash" published by ArtsForge Press.
All rights reserved.