EASTER 1971. | By: Terry Collett | | Category: Short Story - Introspective Bookmark and Share

EASTER 1971.

ďMy baby brother died on Easter Day,Ē said Sister Elizabeth, ďhis arms outstretched stiff in his cot like some miniature Christ. My mother found him and it broke her heart; she clutched him tightly to her breast as if life might return; she had to be sedated to unlatch her hold, the baby still stiff and cold. Sister Peter rings the bell; the sisters flow silently along the cloister; the spring flowers unfold like children at play. I hold my motherís image in my mind, her final days before her jump to her death from the bridge, that last look in her eyes, I carry with me as I walk the cloister with the sunlightís blessing upon robes. My father left unable to cope with my motherís moods, swings, and dark days; he writes from his studio in Turin, his artist fingers mark the page. The statue of Our Lady is decked with flowers; prayers on paper are tucked beneath her feet; she stares out at the blue morning sky. I place my fingers in the stoup and feel the cold water touch the tips; I mark a cross from head to breast from shoulder to shoulder and take my place in the choir stalls, the light from high windows spread upon the flagstone floor like spilt gold. The Crucified hangs over the altar; His arms outstretched like my baby brother; His eyes are closed as if in sleep; His love keeps close in my night of soul. The sisters filter into chapel and take their places; Sister Bede gives me her smile that would warm in winter; the tiny hands clutch the breviary, the red-ended pages contrast with the white of the page. I smell the incense from mass; it lingers around me like a loverís hold. My father painted Christ on the wall of his room; his Christ has no eyes, just shapes like tears and a mouth forming an O with dark skin and robes like snow. My motherís tears almost drowned me in my youth; her wounding words battered my skin; her closed heart kept me away, would not let me in. The Easter chant touches the roof and walls of the chapel; the voices rising and falling like waves of the sea; a unison of praise reaching for God, each word a parcel and gift, a hope, a prayer. The chanting is over; the sisters file out into the morning sun; I sense its warmth on head and skin and lift my face to the light like one waiting to be kissed. My motherís ghost wanders at my side; her arms hold her phantom child; her eyes are bright like new minted coins laid in the sun. I wait by the wall of the cloister garth and sense my motherís words flutter about me like startled birds; her ghostly hand reaches for mine to make up lost time, while clutching her baby against her breast with vacant hand, the fingers holding the head like some Stabat Mater with her lifeless son.Ē

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