Ash Wednesday—Teaching story-writing in school

The boy with the ashen cross smudged across
his forehead does not know
how to write

what the Heart hung on the tree has lost,
what the world has gained, but
he wants to walk

under water, along the bottom
of the sea where there is treasure and also
a whale caught

in a net.  There is no end to this story yet.
The boy cannot speak its beginning either—
not quite imagined—

like the agony of God’s Son on this earth
imaged in countless paintings
and their stories

without ever revealing the entire deep
vision of it.  But somehow in this boy’s story,
the whale is breathing,

and the under- water boy who wants to free
the whale from its net—Oh! Wonder
of wonders!

is breathing.  Just as every heart beating
in its net of desire—invisible, submerged—
yearns to rise

to the surface, to be free.
Wants to joyfully share breath
with all that breathes.


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