(March 2005) I’m taking a break from a tedious manuscript to stare at a big fat robin that’s sitting on my deck staring in at me with its head cocked. Won’t find any worms that way!
My friend Katya says she’s more afraid of Christians on Easter than any other day of the year because she’s Jewish and feels that everyone is looking at her thinking “you fucking Jesus-killer Jew.” She recommends catching 3 or 4 movies that you’ve been wanting to see on Easter Sunday because almost no one else is at the theater.
Am bummed because I forgot to tell anyone my favorite sure-to-piss-off-the-Christians Easter joke....
So, yeah, this is Easter weekend. I don’t believe in Heaven or Hell as actual places—even Milton knew Hell was a concept, seems like—and definitely think of Jesus as a concept and not a man who walked and talked like any of us, so a traditional Christian service centered around dragging a cross through the streets and rolling de stone away (greatgoda’mighty) and dying for my sins coz I’m bad, bad, bad and should be flogged—or maybe spanked?—is lost on me. Did think about renting Jesus of Montreal tonight though, till I remembered how much good basketball will be played.
Christian service aside, I do like symbols and rituals, however, and understand their importance, and I particularly like the idea of formally recognizing the transition from a cold and frozen landscape into a world awash with new growth and possibilities. A friend pointed out an Easter ritual I’d never heard of before yesterday—an Episcopal one that recognizes that our world lost God for a spell. I’m completely fascinated by this formal recognition of an event that must be very scary to Christians, and of the rituals that were developed to represent this. I picked her brain and then another pal’s brain for specifics and think this has the potential to appear in a poem. So the priest apparently closes the triptych or cabinet, removes the tablecloth from the table, puts away all religious artifacts, extinguishes the lights, then leaves the sanctuary. Parishioners light candles and someone stands guard in the dark sanctuary at all times until the Easter morning service, when the world is bathed in light again and we are all, theoretically, saved, redeemed, and no longer sad, forsaken souls.
I have many pictures of a young me in various Easter outfits that match exactly the ones my older sister is wearing. There we are in our scratchy white underwear with lace on the butt, our little lacy white socks and patent-leather shoes, and, one year, a little yellow dress with a green cape and matching hat. And there my banged-up knees are, longing, no doubt, to be wrapped around a tree branch instead standing there while I’m photographed in those clothes.
For years, I plucked a dogwood pedal off a tree every Easter as we walked across the street to church. Always stuck it in my Bible. Remembered that and pulled them out a little while ago. They’re really beautiful. Fragile.
And now I really have to get back to this manuscript, even though I’d rather keep writing. My next break will be for a walk, if the rain holds off—but I’ll sign off with an Easter poem that I particularly like.
EASTER SUNDAY, 1985
by Charles Martin
To take steps toward the reappearance alive of the disappeared is a subversive act, and measures will be adopted to deal with it.—General Oscar Mejia Victores, president of Guatemala
In the palace of the President this morning,
the general is gripped by the suspicion
that those who were disappeared will be returning
in a subversive act of resurrection.
Why do you worry? The disappeared can never
be brought back from wherever they were taken;
the age of miracles is gone forever;
these are not sleeping, nor will they awaken.
And if some tell you Christ once reappeared
alive, one Easter morning, that he was seen—
give them the lie, for who today can find him?
He is perhaps with those who were disappeared,
broken and killed, flung into some ravine
with his arms safely wired up behind him.