Ash Wednesday

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

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Ash Wednesday I saw Quinn again,
first time in years, sailing the streets,
weaving through people,
collar up, head cocked,
arms like telephone poles sunk
in the pockets of his overcoat,

the brilliant pennants of his long red hair
waving over the stadium
where years ago he took my handoff,
bucked off guard, found the free field,
and heaved like a bison
into the end zone.

Tonight, when Quinn wove by me muttering,
I should have handed him the ball.
I should have screamed, “Go, Quinn, go!”
He would have stiff-armed the lamppost,
found the free field again,
left all in his wake to gawk

as he hit the end zone
and circled the goal posts,
whooping and laughing,
flinging the ball like a spear
over the cross-bar,
back to Iraq.

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Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.


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