Standing, a girl-boy, on the junked car in the dump,
some other kids across the dump standing on their cars,
I reminded myself it was around the time Christ died,
and bowed my head into the collar of my sweatshirt.
There was no eclipse of the sun above the Fernhill dump.
I knew I should run home, change clothes, and go to Stations.
It has always been this way at Easter time: the spoiler
of Easter itself tends to make us cavalier when solemn
is the requisite mood, which is why some people crawl
on their knees along monolith stations, or up coarse stone steps,
and why a few see it their due to full-on carry a cross
for miles. It’s why so many young people cut
themselves if they want to feel something.
What have centuries done to our sensitivity
to feelings, or ability to do something with them
in the world, among ourselves, inside our bodies
that doesn’t turn them into pathogens? Or has it
always been like this: Nasty, Brutish, Short
the default; rule of law, justice, and the common good
anomalous conditions overcoming gravity?
What will I do this Good Friday? There are smart
suburban-style homes where once the dump was
our heavenly playground. The families that live there
marvel at this vague history from time to time.
Is it time to write an American Stations of the Cross?
How many more to go before the resurrection comes?
Copyright 2021 Ellen McGrath Smith
Ellen McGrath Smith teaches at the University of Pittsburgh and in the Carlow University Madwomen in the Attic program. Her many publications include Nobody’s Jackknife (West End Press, 2015).