Easter Sundays

By

 

 

 

 

 

These yellow April evenings I,
no longer idealistic or inclined
to wish my life were something that it’s not,
sip gin-and-tonics and enjoy
a fragrant breath of just-mown grass.
Immaculately laned front lawns
are flower-crowned, our windows bright and clean.
The lime-wedge bobbing in my glass
suggests an effervescent, new
and utterly surprising thought of green.
Who could complain? Yet someone surely will,
about the pollen count or lack of rain.
Not me. No one is happier than I
to watch the sprinkler’s grainy rainbow spill
across broad vacancies of watered light
or study sun-glazed copper weathervanes
stamped against the cloud-flown April sky.

But still, it happens nearly every spring—
a blossomed stroll through Holy week,
Good Friday off, a lull, and then
that sadness Easter Sundays always bring.
It’s hard saying exactly why.
it’s not as if I even got to church,
though there are those who wish I would.
Why isn’t it enough just being good?
Extending charity, I mean,
kindness, compassion, concern, and love?
All things I like to think I do.
Who needs an organist and choir,
a brass collection plate, the priest,
and an excruciating pew? Truth is,
it’s something that I’ve often understood:
a deep desire to believe and belong.
Communion in a stony, cool
and solemn atmosphere. Women
who dress and smell like fresh-cut flowers.
Men starched and ironed, splashed with aftershave.
The comfort someone’s looking after us.
That kind of reassurance has a price—
worship with purpose, prayer on time,
ice-cream socials, driving kids to camp,
reading to shut-ins, selling Christmas wreathes.
It’s not enough, just being nice,
and I suppose I understand this, too.

But what about the ones who get it wrong,
who do all this and still despise
the stupid and the ugly and the poor?
Perhaps they celebrated God in song,
tithed 10 percent and kneeled to pray,
but then two-timed the marriage, harbored hate
against their neighbors, screwed a friend or two—
not even really anything that’s new.
It’s just so dull. You’d think they’d preach
a little less, not judge so much.
But who am I to say? It’s just so dull,
that righteous indignation of the blessed.

My next-door neighbor hates my guts,
at least when we talk politics he does.
He loves me like a brother, though,
when we talk gardening, cooking, music, dogs.
We plan long weekend trips we’ll never take—
wine country or the coast. Our families eat
together once a week or more.
This is not paradise, I know.
This is not paradise, it’s only home.
And yet imperfect as it is,
it would be difficult to disagree,
another Easter days away,
that home seems just about as flawless now
as it may ever be.

***

“Easter Sundays” appears in The Night Guard at the Wilberforce Hotel, by Daniel Anderson © 2014, Johns Hopkins University Press. It has been reprinted with permission from the author and from Johns Hopkins University Press.


Daniel Anderson has written three collections of poetry: The Night Guard at the Wilberforce Hotel, Drunk in Sunlight, and January Rain, which won the Nicholas Roerich Prize. The New York Times listed The Selected Poems of Howard Nemerov, a book he edited, as one of its “notable” books in 2003. His poems have appeared in Poetry, The Yale Review, The Hudson Review, The New Republic, New England Review, The Missouri Review, The Hopkins Review, Northwest Review, Southwest Review, The Best American Poetry, The Southern Review, and The Kenyon Review. They have also been featured on Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac.” His honors include a Pushcart Prize as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bogliasco Foundation. More from this author →