Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Ellen McGrath Smith: Good Friday, Fernhill Dump

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).

Junked trucks, Pittsburgh (source: Cash for Cars)

One comment on “Ellen McGrath Smith: Good Friday, Fernhill Dump

  1. Emily De Ferrari
    April 2, 2021

    Wonderful, thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

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