Ashes

girl exhales a lot of vapor, a white cloud with light space

ISABEL VANDER BLEEK


I gave up alcohol for Lent
And took up cigarettes.
My choice was met with loud dissent,
In vaguely loving threats.

“You’ll kill yourself by smoking those,”
The nursing students said.
But others seemed to presuppose
It’s sin that leaves you dead.

They met my fall with tender smiles,
For striving saints get through
By trading trials for different trials
And hoping they improve.

Their sins may not be ones that show
like twitching fingertips,
But still they feel them burn down slow,
Taste ashes on their lips.



Isabel Vander Bleek was born and raised in Morrison, Illinois and earned her Bachelor’s degree in English from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She now lives in Virginia with her husband and teaches English at a Catholic girls’ school.


First published in Measure Review