Ash Wednesday, 2022

by Patrice M. Wilson


Sackcloth. Ashes.
Queen Esther pleads to God
for her people’s lives.

Ashes. Rubble. Debris.
I light my Madonna and Child,
her queenly pleading

for His war-torn people,
Ukraine this time — 
Russia too:

that its stone-faced leader
will acquire some kind
of human heart.


What sacrifice will it take
that has not already been made,
what prayer offered not already prayed

What thumbprint of ash
not already placed
on everyone’s forehead?

My Madonna and Child statue
glows from the bottom up through glass,
the base on which she stands
black as ashes.

Born Catholic in Newark NJ, raised in Catholic schools, Patrice M. Wilson has a PhD in English from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, having earned her MA there and her BA at the University of Maryland, College Park. She was editor of the very fine Hawaii Pacific Review for 16 years while teaching at Hawaii Pacific University. She has three chapbooks of poetry with Finishing Line Press, and one full-length poetry collection with Christian publisher eLectio Publishing. Dr. Wilson recently spent five years in the cloistered Carmelite monastery in Kaneohe, HI. She is now a retired professor living in Mililani, Oahu, HI.

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