“From the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.” (Matthew 27: 45, The Jerusalem Bible)
Today, Friday, April 10, 2020, is “Good Friday,” but on the day of Jesus’s crucifixion, death, and burial, there was nothing good about this Friday. The followers of Jesus did not know Easter Sunday was coming. They knew only despair, an appropriate emotion for today, the supposedly deadliest week of the Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic, at least so in the United States, but we do know the hope of Easter, the courage and self-sacrifice of so many Christ-like servants combating this virus, this darkness over all the land, their actions, their lives, exampling lines from the peace prayer of Saint Frances:
“where there is despair, hope;
where is darkness, light. . . . ”
The following poem is my offering for this day of seeming darkness, my looking back over the symbolic decades of my generation, my gratitude for all we have shared together, for all still to be shared, the joy that endures, light in the darkness.
“Some Days You Gotta Dance”*
“. . . I am the morning
in which the autumn leaves have no question
as the breeze passes through them and is gone.”
(W. S. Merwin, “Old Man At Home Alone In The Morning”)
I have known the mourning of names on stone
ordered in rows arranged since childhood–
teenagers packed in a ’57 Chevy, dark
farm-to-market road topping a hill at 90
to bed beneath an eighteen wheeler
perpendicular to their destination.
We could have joined them five years later
coffined in a pickup blacker than the night,
drunken backroads charted too well
to permit surprises–that grinning rictus
waiting around the cliche bend, around
the clock, Elvis, the Beatles, what we
could do for Country, the girl next door,
Weejuns and button-down collars,
the reverend’s Dream, V-8 Galaxie,
MacArthur Park melting dark, Coast Highway
to Gracie, Janis, Jimi, jet plane to
Philly Main Line, Judy C., someday soon
goodbye to the girl next door, “Greetings”
rice paddies, Central Highlands–Semper Fi,
love, honor, obey in health and in sickness,
et cetera, et cetera. . . .
Now morning becomes equally equivocal,
still alive at this writing table, early darkness
outside the window–Surprise!–the plague
invisible, filling the lungs of our world
bedded down together, the lovely lonely
in each other’s arms. Someday soon.
*The Dixie Chicks. “Some Days You Gotta Dance.” From the album Fly, 1999, Writers: Troy Kent, N. Johnson, Marshall Morgan, Publisher: Sony / ATV Music Publishing LLC, Words & Music A Division of Big Deal Music LLC.
Merwin, W. S. “Old Man At Home Alone In The Morning.” Garden Time. Copper Canyon Press, 2016, p. 65.