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The Ashes on My Forehead

With a forehead donned with ashes

I am self-conscious.

I’ve departed from the ordinary;

My appearance is made strange.

Yet, people remain unfazed—

No questions ventured or eyebrows raised,

No prolonged stares.

I’m spared.

I’m spared the judgments so many face

Because others have deemed them


Not “unique” or “specialized”

But distinctly other, lesser, unwelcome.

They cannot escape prolonged stares

Or harmful, fear-driven responses,

And they carry deep anxiety and shame,

Which cannot be wiped away

Like ashes on a forehead.

With a forehead donned with ashes,

I am self-conscious.