(March 2001)

Copyright (c) 2001 First Things 111 (March 2001): 12.

Ash Wednesday

Little Saint Mary’s Church, Cambridge

Here lyeth . . . (Sarah?) Drake beneath the floor,
a Persian carpet lapped across her stone
so all you see is –rah, and Cambridgeshire,
and that she was the cherished wife of someone
who caused her to sleep before the altar
like Samuel, given up to night and God.
Mutely, being dead, she bears the thurifer
who stands on her and swings his silver pod
of incense like a pendulum. What time
is it, six feet down? How long did they
tell her the wait would be? And is her name
written where it matters, legibly,
or will we all, given the same name—Dust—
forget at last who was forgotten first?

—Sally Thomas