Good Friday Ritual

Photo: Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles, California by Frank Iley

Photo: Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles, California
by Frank Iley

Remember back when we were kids?

Mom would load us into the back seat of her ‘53 Buick

and haul us off to Calvary Cemetery.


A stop at our favorite flower vendor,

the sweet scent of stock,

sickening, filled up the car.


We’d visit your mother

and the grave of an unknown soldier, a few rows down

for my father whose body was, who-knows-where.


At noon she’d hush us up

to observe the three hours

and hand us tuna fish sandwiches on Wonder bread

soggy by now ‘cause of too much mayo.


We’d eat in silence, giggling,

not knowing how to spend the time,

not knowing how to pray.


Today—no cemetery.

Today—no mushy sandwich.

Today—she won’t go.

“I’ll be there soon enough,” she says,

but you are there—alone.


I wrote this yesterday for Day 18 of National Poetry Month. The three hours refers to a traditional practice of spending noon to three PM in silent prayer, in observation of the time Christ was said to hang upon the cross.

5 thoughts on “Good Friday Ritual

  1. That wasn’t bread – it was mush! Thank goodness we’re going back to proper bread with the good left in!
    I liked your family memories. Good Friday for me was the three hour service in the convent chapel. This year I watched the service from King’s College Cambridge on TV, and it was inspiring.


  2. scillagrace says:

    Steve & I are going with his Mom to the cemetery where his father’s buried tomorrow. I’ve never done this before; Steve suggested it for his mom’s sake. Not sure what we’ll do…see how high the tree’s grown?


  3. brian miller says:

    we used to go to the cemetery every easter as well…by the time i was 10 i had lost 3 grandparents…both my mothers parents by the time i was 6…they were the ones that we would go visit…its hard to know how to act there are well…people you only have vague impressions of….


  4. kamana says:

    i enjoy reading about other peoples’ holiday rituals. happy easter victoria


  5. wolfsrosebud says:

    I remember being hushed for three hours… almost felt guilty moving an exchange student at 2 yesterday… remember the colorful bubbles on that wonder bread bag… who knew we would have yeasty problems in the gut someday… Happy Easter


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