Kayla Czaga


At the Ash Wednesday service, waiting
for the priest to cross my forehead, I watched him
touch the faces of the people in front of me.
Briefly, I imagined him say, “Remember you
are blessed” and was horrified when I remembered it
was really, “Remember you are dust,” with ashes
thumbed into my forehead. Headlights spattered
through the intentionally-broken glass
windows of that beautiful downtown church
tucked behind a mall, as I tried to understand
“and to dust you shall return.” Traffic lights
flickered through Christ with arms nailed
open, Mary robed in blue, mourning into his feet.
After the service, I spilled out of the church
into wet February and public transit hauled me
back into my crumbling ordinary life.
What happens after this? When Jesus died,
it was temporary, the stone rolled away,
but where is he now, and can any of us hope
to go there, or is it all ashes to ashes and dust
covered bookshelves? Last week, Liz tried
to explain taxidermy to me, how she peeled
a rabbit, then rigged its pelt back into
rabbit-shape. She emptied a set of robin’s wings
to sew onto its back—the flying rabbit.
It looked alive, a stitching trick, the way
my dead relatives look alive, resurrected
in photographs. It reminded me of colouring
Easter eggs with my mother. We blew the yolks
into a bowl before we dyed the shells
blue and yellow. How the eggs looked full
until we held them up to the light.