Lenten Incense

The boy kneels as the Father prods the coals
that glower in the thurible. The gray
ash sticks, then crumbles, shifts and falls away.
The embers surge orange before the granules,
like tiny jewels, are spooned onto the fire.
It is a simple ritual—almost quaint–
done with ancient courtesy and restraint.
In the burnt brass bowl, like a little pyre,
the fire and fuel co-mingle and produce
a waft of smoke that lifts to curl and cling,
and break the chains of human suffering.
It’s a burnt offering; Pentecost– A bush
blazing in the desert where I roam.
It’s the smoke on Sinai; the still, small voice–
and the sweet, cloudy pillar that leads me home.

This is one of the poems from my first collection of verse: A Sudden Certainty