St. Mary's

This high-ceilinged sanctuary sat empty yesterday,
and cool, to keep the flowers fresh, while Jesus lay
dead in his much colder tomb. Hurrying in, wearing our finery,
we tend to forget death’s part in this holiday,
’til someone who’s made its acquaintance wheels by.

Over the din of greetings and pleasantries, you can hear
the rhythmic gasp of a portable breathing machine,
and the purr of a battery-driven chair.
Its bumper sticker declares, “Aging Is the Only Way to Live.”
But you know you can also live by dying for years.

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You can die every time you rouge your cheeks,
never again to see the man
who loved to stand behind you in the mirror,
and call you Good Lookin’ and smell your hair.
You can die while you humor your friends,
and date that widower whose loneliness
looks just like yours, but isn’t.

This morning, potted lilies and a brass ensemble crowd the dais.
A French horn player pours spit from his instrument
right onto the carpet! That makes you laugh,
which makes you cry in your pew,
which makes the well-intended busybody beside you
ask why. You’re tempted to say,
“Because they’ve taken away my Rabbi,
and I don’t know where they’ve put the body.”
Instead, you just accept the offered hanky
and smile at the thought of yourself
as Mary Magdalene,
flanked by angels, thunderstruck and thrilled,
racing off to preach the Easter homily.


Rachel M. Srubas

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10 years 11 months ago
What an absolute delight to read the poem by Rachel M. Srubas, entitled “St. Mary’s” (4/12). A sense of Easter joy, excitement and fulfillment radiates throughout the piece. She collects all the elements that make Easter, the feast of the Resurrection, so vital a part of our experience as Christian people. From the brass player spritzing the carpet, through the wheezy congregation to the image of the Magdalene, racing off to preach the Easter homily—she got it just right. Jesus is up—and so will we be, when the time comes. Thanks for this gem.

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