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.