Poetry for Easter — with a little help
by Judy Elliott
April 20, 2014 12:00 AM | 1689 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Eyeing a bowl of jelly beans earlier this week, I noticed the colors of the candy had taken on Mardi Gras hues, yellows, greens and purples.

“The red ones are gone,” I said sadly, to no one in particular. “No beans on the scene,” my husband offered in passing. Then it dawned on me, I had eaten every red cinnamon-laced jelly bean.

When I read Marietta writer Nancy Ryle’s “Spring Lament,” I knew we were kindred spirits. She writes:

“The year’s at the spring, the day’s at the morn,

And I’m at the mirror, forlorn, forlorn.

Why, oh why, do I indulge

In eating habits that make me bulge?

At Halloween I ate the sweets

That I had bought for trick or treats.

At Thanksgiving time I went on a spree,

I stuffed the turkey and then stuffed me.

Now my figure’s even ampler

Thanks to my Valentine Whitman’s Sampler.

I’ll diet now — it will come in handy,

Just in time for the Easter candy.”

Ogden Nash, whose rhymes on the sweet life included, “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker,” also had an angle on his own poetic license: “Linguistics becomes an ever eerier area, I feel like I’m in Oz, Just trying to tell it like it was,” he penned.

But it is his whimsical rhyme about an imaginary rabbit that suits the lighter mood of this day.

“Would have sent you an Easter egg, but I asked a rabbit that I knew

To lay an Easter egg for you

The air was filled with chilly frost

The rabbit said to me, ‘Get lost!’

That egg routine is for the funnies

Us rabbits just have little bunnies.”

This information spoiled my day,

But Happy Easter anyway.”
Somehow, we manage to combine the meaning of the religious liturgy in the solemnity of Good Friday through the sunrise of Easter Sunday with the image of a giant white bunny bringing chocolate eggs, women in festive hats and children with Easter baskets, filled to the brim.

While hearing the story of Resurrection, we throw off the heavy cloak of winter’s ice and snow, welcoming flowering trees and the first breath of spring.

We find hope in Robert Browning’s poem, dedicated to a young girl, free from work for one day: “God’s in his heaven — All’s right with the world.”

Several years ago, a touching story, told by an old friend from the pulpit, spoke to the quiet understanding of a child named Phillip.

His Sunday school class of typical fifth-graders, girls in pastel Easter dresses, boys in new shoes, pinching their toes, sat still while their teacher handed out L’eggs panty hose containers, shaped like ostrich eggs, split into equal parts when opened. Her instruction was to take the “eggs” outside and find signs of new life, symbols of Easter.

Phillip, not sure of foot and often needing help, walked outside, away from the group. When the search for signs of fresh beginnings was over, the class, one by one, shared its findings: fresh, green grass; a blue, tiny bird egg; a small bouquet of wild violets; clover.

The quiet one, Phillip, was the last to share. A couple of boys nudged each other, rolling their eyes over his shyness. When Phillip opened his “egg,” there was nothing in it. There was a laugh or two until the teacher asked for quiet. “Tell us your Easter story, Phillip,” she said. Slowly, he held up both halves of his “egg.” “The tomb is empty,” he said.

The teacher, tears filling her eyes, smiled in his direction, knowing he understood the Bible story she had taught.

I think of Phillip every Easter as my grandchildren run through the fresh grass of spring, looking for hidden eggs, an occasional wild violet in their paths.

He would be older now, hopefully at one with his unique gifts, perhaps writing his own poetry and dyeing eggs for children who cannot dye their own. “Alleluia, Phillip,” I whisper. “Alleluia.”

Judy Elliott lives and writes in Marietta.
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