Autumn Sky Poetry . . . Number 17 . . .

Easter Sunday, 1956

     by David W. Landrum

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.

David W. Landrum teaches Literature at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. His poetry has appeared in The Dark Horse, Evansville Review, and Umbrella. He edits the on-line poetry journal, Lucid Rhythms.

© 2010 David W. Landrum