Shrove Tuesday

Shriven into a repentant’s place –
readied for a cross of palm ash –
a marking – tomorrow – of believers –
Yesterday was our early Mardi Gras
of confessions – But we do not follow
those fading rules of others’ liturgies –
We cannot name their Shriving Bell
as they stick it loudly to parishioners –
I was last in a church in Birmingham –
under glass and impressive masonry –
but did I not see the work of God –
Now on this half-holiday we will feast
without you here to guide turned heat –
to sear fat and remnants of shopping –
We have given up everything
to a non-date far beyond Lent’s tests


 

Cox

Slipped backwards with a slight grumble
of keel complaints on that steep slope of gravel –
and our loose rudder is quick to shift – left or right –
as if kicking sullen under reversed ways –

its complaint is slowed – then dismissed
by my pull and straightening – my first correction –
We drift into being a crew as dry blades lower
into the fix of pins – set as bared pegs on a line –

You are the cold engine – me – a tugged-corrector
of your early misfires – of too-short reaches
and lax recoveries – they will tip our vessel
like a nervous fish in an ever-shrinking pool –

as we outgrow circling and find a desire for waves
and their high rises – then lives will depend
on us mere coxes – us shouters and fag-suckers –
we will need to read sea water – as if born to it