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  • Writer's pictureLaura McBride

On Easter Day 2015

A gift, a poem of today, for today, to be included in my next anthology, out this summer. Meanwhile, please see Cow-Tipping and the Deep Blue Sea and The Luminous Shadow of the Muse.


It looked exactly as Easter ought to look. The grey stone

rose up into the blue sky, the nave roof line peaking above

the rose-windowed vault, the pinnacles pointing toward

heaven. Against the buttresses, an enormous camellia,

vibrant pink, bloomed. Along the churchyard wall, daffodils'

yellow heads bobbed in the sunlight, dancing to a tune played

by passing traffic as there was no wind. All was still and

beautiful and springlike and almost holy.


This was the dream of my youth, the dream of an English

country church, beautiful in its combination of heavy stone

and traceried windows, set into a landscape of vibrant

greens, pinks, yellows and all topped with a sky the colour

of the sky blue Crayola crayon. Inside, there would be happy

families, listening to a sermon and possibly dozing for a

minute, then leaping up for communion, filing out, shaking

hands with the priest, going home for a big lunch in a

cosy house with pleasant relatives. It was a pipe dream.


Reality was more stark. A draconian Roman Catholic church,

borne in uncomfortable silence in years my father could

bear for us to go to a church that had failed him, bare modern

wood in a church that looked more like a bingo hall. The faithful

were more faithless than most people knew; I knew. The kids

bullied me on the playground, the adults teased me because

I was different. Because a sterile church in an impoverished

landscape was not enough for me. Because I got above myself,

they said. Thank goodness I held my own, held my ground, held

out for the landscape of my dreams.


It took a while to shake off the tentacles of American life

in the second half of the 20th century. Early into the 21st,

I did, finally. But I left, my dreams intact, my certainty

that beauty was more important than the dross of a

degrading civilization, that an ancient landscape dotted

with ewes and lambs in fields not a quarter mile from a

medieval church was more pleasing to the eye, to the spirit,

to life itself than all the fancy cars, catered feasts, gatherings

of barely civil aunts and uncles and cousins on the entire

east coast of America.


It is lonely here sometimes. Not all my aunts, uncles and

cousins were boors. I miss them. But I have a spouse, a dog

and a cat, a few tentative friends—friends being hard-won

even for immigrants who speak the same tongue—in this

old part of England far from cosmopolitan London, or

even Bristol.


It is enough, most times. It is enough to pass that ancient church--

I don't go in, knowing that my deity is not theirs, that my deity is

there always and everywhere, and is not specially there when

those who follow self-serving leaders are told the godhead will

be available and only under certain conditions and only if they

believe the myths about the deity with their whole heart. I pass by,

wondering when the closed pub of the same vintage will

reopen. I hurtle down the roads across fields with the tiny lambs

of early spring, to wind through the woodlands by the river, and

emerge at a beach where dogs are allowed, and there is a

beach café where one can sit over coffee or a snack, sheltered but

outdoors, hearing waves, seeing ships pass through the channel

and into the ocean and the world. It is enough to come home,

however late, and sink into the landscape I yearned for, a

landscape fecund with all good things, and still, as the 21st

century winds on, alive with the constants of life--ewes and

lambs and ancient churches that even Fat Hank the King of Fools,

Oliver Cromwell and Nazi bombs could not demolish.


The sky is blue, the churchyard serene, the woods mysterious,

the sea eternal, my beloveds at my side.


It is enough.

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