Sunday, April 20, 2014

Allelulia! He Is Risen!

by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

My mother woke us that Sunday – her voice

a bell proclaiming spring. We rose

diving into our clothes, newly bought.

We took turns standing before mirrors,

combing, staring at our new selves.

Sinless from forty days of desert,

sinless from good confessions, we

drove to church in a red pickup, bright

and red and waxed for the special

occasion. Clean, polished as apples,

the yellow-dressed girls in front

with Mom and Dad; the boys in back,

our hair blowing free in the warming

wind. Winter gone away. At Mass,

the choir singing loud: ragged

notes from ragged angel’s voices;

ancient hymns sung in crooked Latin.

The priest, white robed, raised his palms

toward God, opened his mouth in awe:

“Alleluia!” The unspoken word of Lent

let loose in flight. Alleluia and incense

rising, my mother wiping her tears

from words she’d heard; my brother and I

whispering names of statues lining

the walls of the church. Bells ringing,

Mass ending, we running to the truck,

shiny as shoes going dancing. Dad

driving us to see my grandmother. There,

at her house, I asked about the new word

I’d heard: resurrection. “Death,

death,” she said, her hands moving downward,

“the cross – that is death.” And then she

laughed: “The dead will rise.” Her upturned

palms moved skyward as she spoke. “The dead

will rise.” She moved her hands toward me,

wrapped my face with touches, and

laughed again. The dead will rise.

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