Easter Sunday, 1956
In front of our Buick Roadmaster
with the grill that looked like Teddy Roosevelt’s teeth,
we are standing—my father, brother and I.
It is Easter and we’re ready to take off
for church—we did not normally go
but my mother must have talked my father into it.
We wear white shirts and clip-on bow ties;
my father’s shock of hair combed back;
my brother chubby-cheeked, our hair cut short,
tow-headed boys not used to dressing up.
It was a momentary innocence, that scene
on Easter Day—it felt like the apostles must have
felt when they saw (or thought they saw)
their Rabbi once more, come back from the dead;
their joy, their speechlessness as they saw him eat
some fish and honeycomb; their hope
he might, at this time, usher the kingdom in.
After that, they would all die martyr’s deaths:
James beheaded, Peter crucified upside-down,
Thomas killed in India. And things would change.
The church would organize; someone named Saul,
then later Paul, would take the faith
to the Gentiles and would write down things
hard to be understood, as Peter said.
And so it was with us. The ugly quarrels,
recriminations, then my Dad’s withdrawal,
my mother’s bitterness, our own thirty year’s
war that left the family fragmented,
children gone like refugees
to found new lives; my parents, though,
at peace, like two exhausted nations too bankrupt
to keep on fighting. All this had not yet come.
That day in Spring saw a lily’s innocence
in white shirts and blond hair, bow-ties striped red,
and promise rising from a borrowed tomb.
from Autumn Sky Poetry 17 — by David W. Landrum
Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim