“At the first turning of the second stair
I turned and saw below
The same shape twisted on the banister”*

If I dressed somewhere between sackcloth
and silks, my mind might puzzle out
the fair to middling way
if I took the twisted stairs as guide
thoughts of the winding sheet
should not phase faith
nor prompt a last ditch clutch
at hollow rites of passage

If I could cease delight in dense drifts
of diversion, the spun blur of a top's rotation
each slippery slope where snakes are swayed
by charms - then reaching for the ladder
I would not turn to look below again
but clamber on to Jacob's sacrosanct domain

Ashes in the grate grow cold and slatey grey
this very day, hellfire is spent, past passion too
there is a dove, a doubt, a flame
a kind of kindling yet again

Lilian’s Turn, Turn, Turn prompt brought Eliot’s Ash Wednesday * to mind and in turn, his poem set these few lines in motion. [And its open link night on Thursdays at dVerse]