Holy Saturday

 

Richard, it is Holy Saturday

and somewhere to the right

of the large oak door your aunts

wait at the window, curtain drawn.

No ritual can begin without you,

faces will lose their place

without you to smudge kisses

on their foreheads.

 

Richard, it is Holy Saturday

and in the basket the eggs wait,

as white and as naked as your back

looked in the bathtub when you were young.

Once I remember you asked me

if I knew how daffodils

sustain themselves year after year-

a burst of the bulb is the crack in the egg

and all the yellow runs-

pollen stains when flowers

are held too close to the chest.

 

(Why couldn't he have died in the winter,

Aunt Helen said, when everyone has given

up on flowers?)

 

You left us in the spring; you had worn

a hole straight through the elbow of your denim

shirt, and when you fell, for the last time,

the rip made its way up your arm just

as your heart stopped.

 

Once I remember you saying to me, if I could

leave you one thing, what would it be-

as if your eyes could be captured in a painting

or made visible through the leaves

at the bottom of a china teacup. Ask

and you shall receive. All I wanted

was for you to stay, to break the window,

spoil the glass, let the colors spill

on the ground, but you couldn't even lift

your head to see these three faces at the window,

the ones who don't want you to go,

even though it's not their place

to tell you to stay.

 

Andrea Bates