An Easter Fail and Closing Out National Poetry Month

Easter Sunday began with a sunrise service; not at church but on the deck, wrapped in a shawl, eating hot-cross buns as the sun lifted above the tree tops. The birds were singing like crazy. It was the most glorious Easter morning I’ve experienced in a long time. I hope your Easter Day was glorious and joyful too.

Because we have Grands, we have the traditional Easter egg hunt and the looking for Easter baskets. This year it started in one room, extended into three others, then outside, and finally clues to the baskets. I remember Dad playing Hot-Cold with us as my sisters and I hunted for eggs when we were kids. My Grands didn’t know that game but it didn’t take long to get into the fun of taking that one step in the wrong direction to change the temperature. All went well until it was time to eat.

I know black olives fall into that great divide of either you love them or you don’t like them at all. Our house is divided on the issue. Here’s a story illustrating which side I fall on. When I was 10 or so, I was spending the night with my cousin Sue. At the end of her block was a neighborhood store that carried all the essentials like bread, milk, eggs, lunchmeats, and cans of black olives. I don’t know what time it was, but my aunt was in bed and it was dark outside, obviously later than my cousin and I should’ve been out. But the call of black olives was too strong. So off we went to the store. We split the delicious black orbs between us then slurped the juice.

Most of my kids and several of my Grands take after me so I always have a can or two when we have family gatherings–like on Easter. Earlier in the week I grabbed one from the pantry and stuck it in the fridge so the tasty olives would be cold. When Hubby opened the can they weren’t olives. They were black beans. Not even close to being the same, but oh so close on the label. Not a disaster but definitely a disappointment. I imagine this incident will become, “Remember the year Nana Kim thought the black beans were black olives!” followed by giggles and ribbing. Every family needs stories like that.

I hesitated writing about Easter since the day is passed but, like Christmas, Eastertide is a full season ending on Pentecost. My Easter décor will stay up until June 5. Like when I de-frock the Christmas tree, there will be a sense of ritual as I go through the house gathering bunnies. The families will return to their tissue paper and cardboard hutches, the jelly bean bunny will be emptied–as if there’ll be any jelly beans left–and put away. I find comfort in these tasks that aren’t merely housekeeping.

We have the Gregorian calendar that dictates our life in seven-day increments making time rush by. It’s Monday again already?! We have our seasonal calendar that chops up the year into four neat blocks so we know when to plant and harvest our gardens, head to the beach, buy school supplies. But for me there’s also this sacred undergirding of liturgical seasons that are fluid, defying what the other calendars dictate. This liturgical calendar slows me down, creates more space for reflection, reminds me of daily sacredness. This year for the first time since 1991, all religious disciplines have holy days and seasons that overlap from March through Pentecost. We are truly in a holy season.

Since this is my final April post, I want to end with 2 poetry notes to close out this year’s National Poetry Month. Previously in Can Poetry Matter?, I wrote that all forms of poetry matter. Joseph and Joy represent to me some of the finest from the written and spoken word.

I’m again turning to my mentor and friend Joseph Bathanti who released another book of poetry this year, Light at the Seam. It’s fitting to include this review in a post that also includes Easter. Joseph draws on his Catholic faith, laying the foundation for his poems, rendering them prayers. With Appalachian mountaintop removal coal mining as the core, Joseph praises and honors the dignity of the men and women who do the hard work; he glorifies all of creation in sunrises and sunsets, mountain streams, wildflowers; and he condemns the greed of and loss caused by the practice.

I remember the first time I saw the scars of mountaintop removal. Hubby and I had stopped for ice cream at our usual DQ along I-77 on our way home to Ohio. I stood out of the car, stretched and looked toward the mountains, and saw this large desert-looking area where lush green should’ve been. I had a visceral reaction knowing this wasn’t blight from insect infestation or clearing from a fire; knowing that area may never recover. Joseph’s book is a testament of what was, what is, and what will be if not for some saving grace.

This last poet is another friend of mine, Joy Colter. Joy has this quiet, humorous, soft-spoken, thoughtful demeanor . . . until she recites. Joy blows us away with her spoken word poetry, the power of her voice, the powerful messages in her masterful poems. Joy writes on love, family, current events, faith – everything is fodder. She is a favorite in our area. Here’s Joy at a recent event where she was a Feature Reader.

Wishing you continued joy and hope during this holy season. If you have gardens may the flowers and veggies be beautiful and bountiful!

Light at the Seam is available through LSU Press.

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