The National Catholic Review
Brian Doyle

Windy, same as usual. Shivering daffodils, huddled crocuses.
Sunbursts that are essentially a dark joke. Spattering of moist
Proto-hail, says our sister, who will eventually become a nun.
Funny that we remember single words spoken forty years ago.
The huddle of shoulders in pews, the hands held out for Hosts.
The rich russet scent of raincoats and overcoats and umbrellas.
The slight polite hesitation as someone looks to lift the kneeler.
The way everyone kneels except the very old and the surgicals.
The clasps pinning down mantillas and veils and white scarves.
The burly theater of it all, the ancient tidal rise and fall and ebb
And startling resurrection against all sense and patent evidence.
The awful genius of the faith is that it is so much more and less
Than religion; we have no choice but to insist on a resurrection,
And choose one among us to drag a cross, and then leap from it
And emigrate, but not before collecting documentary witnesses;
Otherwise we are all merely walking compost, and where is the
Fun in that, not to mention why not commit crimes twice daily?
And at the other end of the spectrum, not one soul on that rainy
Easter morning long ago cared a whit about theological matters.
They did not even care if the thin man once died and rose again.
They were there, in clans and tribes and couples, for each other,
Out of respect and affection, and habit and custom, and because
They wanted to give their children a thing they couldn’t explain
Very easily, something to run away from and later back towards,
Something insistent that didn’t make sense then and still doesn’t.
Something you can easily disprove and can never actually prove,
Which is basically the point. We cover it with smoke and money,
With vestments and learned commentary, with visions and edicts,
But under the cloth there is only wild hope, to which we give His
Face, sitting there by the lake quietly eating baked fish and bread.
At the end of the meal we walked out into the rain, singing badly.

Brian Doyle is editor of Portland Magazine, at the University of Portland, in Portland, Ore.

Comments

Winifred Holloway | 4/27/2011 - 6:45am
Thank you for this poem, Brian.  It is both beautiful and wise.  I have sent it out to my e-mail universe of family and friends.
Kathy Pesta | 4/25/2011 - 11:16am
Mr. Doyle, you made my heart sing with your beautiful, gritty poem.  I love it.  After Easter dinner yesterday, my husband and I spent a half an hour discussing the "meaning of it all" with our daughter,her husband and his family.  Between us we represent two religious traditions and an agnostic.  The discussion was lively, respectful and heartfelt.  And then your poem appeared on my computer this morning and summed it all up perfectly. I sent it on to everyone so that they, too, may ponder its meaning and enjoy its images.  Thank you!

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