I Want to Bring Back by Geraldine Connolly

I Want to Bring Back

My organdy Easter dress and straw hat
with a navy ribbon, tight green blossoms
in April, gravestones among apple trees,
the Virgin’s long blue robe, the startled ringing
of the altar bell like breaking icicles, that moment
when bread changes into the body of God.

Bring back crocuses and Easter chicks, reborn Jesus,
dogwoods and sycamores, who wore their blazing hats
of color. Eggs and lilies, the first moment
the orchard above the farmhouse blossomed
pink above the muddy Pennsylvania creek, a ring
near furrowed fields, of laden apple trees,

pheasants with wings like helicopter blades, trees
that bloomed, lifting their faces toward God,
the whole of the newly ploughed garden bringing
thoughts of hope. We tied on our hats
and to the ribbons fastened dry blossoms
with certainty, and that quiet instant

before we prayed became the moment
we wandered, lost among the trees,
muddied our stockings, crushed blossoms
beneath our shoes, cried out to the old God
to save us from falling. I remember that
once we were innocent, once we wore our ring

of belief like a badge, a feeling of being wrung
clean as we prayed, as if we could begin again.
I call to innocence, to girls in Communion hats
about to ascend the steep rows of church steps
to kneel, to bow and greet their god
as rows of widows and penitents like dark blossoms

light candles in the apse, their flame blossoms
illuminating the faithful, gathered and singing
songs of praise, hymns to the one God,
our faith restored, all of this in the moment
before mystery approached, belief failed, before trees
of new knowledge grew up into the heat

and fervor of the world. Tight green blossoms,
gravestones in the shade of apple trees, I call and
call to them. There is no answer.

by Geraldine Connolly, first appeared in Mezzo Cammin

Editor’s Note: This brilliant sestina contains a wealth of spectacular imagery and a final stanza that perfectly encapsulates the emotional narrative.