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.


Benjamin Alire Sáenz (1954 – )