Monday, February 27, 2012

Clean Monday

Icon depicting The Ladder of Divine Ascent
(12 C., St. Catherine's Mondastery, Sinai)
Clean Monday or Bright Monday is the first day of Great Lent in Eastern Orthodoxy and is a national holiday in Greece. People clean their homes, fly kites, and go on outdoor excursions. Shellfish and octopus are Lenten foods.

Clean Monday

Dark ceases in his light, so they say.
I want to belong to him lifelong.
Same old song, old song, old song.

Black leaves in daylight.
Black leaves rot on the lawn.
Why have I done so much wrong?

Why do I see dark branches in blue sky,
lead filaments joining stained glass,
a cosmos that shows not the ark,

not radiant halos of the saints,
not his hand and kiss, his grace.
In my daylit trance the dark branches split

and split again, the patterns of my years
I should convert. I’ve been a bride
more than once, an unblessed fool

whose house is a mess. It is Clean Monday,
the first day of Lent, time to repent with joy,
as they do in Greece, to scour our rooms

of moth and rust, then go outside, uncorrupt,
and eat shellfish and octopus by the sea,
where clean-hearted souls fill the sky

with kites. If only he would invite me
to a picnic, too, and we’d eat Lenten food
beneath a plane tree ready for spring.

Maybe then I’d forget that same old song
gone wrong, oh Lord, and set aside my wit
that won’t submit to trust or let me be adored.