The sky is the colour of ashes—

      White and grey;

The eaves drip icicle tears

      falling away


My life is filled with ashes,

      my mood is fey;

Death upon death finds my heart

      falling away


Across my forehead a cross

     —charcoal dust—

Reminds me that my frame

      will soon rust


Over the shadow of death

      a Cross

Reminds me that life

      can flame from loss


The kernel of wheat

      must die,

Roots of the tree lie buried far

      from the sky


Are these ashen flakes

      the soil

Not of death alone, but of

      figs and oil?


Are these ashes the Fertile

      Land, unseen,

Until I have God’s eyes

      to see the green?


Is this ashy, narrow place*

      a birth canal?

Is this dark smothering earth

      life somehow?


Does the thriving tree begin

      as a cross,

Planted in ashes, in death,

      in loss?


From that hollow hole

      comes Tov**—

Roots mingled with ashes, whose

      fruit is love


From the hollow grave

      rises Love—

Preparing Earth, through us, for

      the Kingdom above.




*In Hebrew the word for Egypt means “a narrow place.”

** Tov is the Hebrew for “good”—a goodness that is generational.

Photo credit: Karsten Würth, Unsplash

Johanna Byrkett

Johanna Byrkett

Johanna (Jody) Byrkett enjoys hiking various types of terrain, foggy mornings and steaming mugs of tea, reading classic literature and theological essays, studying words and their origins, and practising the art of hospitality. (She also has the singularly annoying habit of spelling things 'Britishly'.)

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