Poems by contemporary Canadian poets. Continuing an annual tradition at Faith Today.
More Easter poems
An online supplement of contemporary Canadian poetry, an addition to those published in our Mar/Apr 2023 issue.
Memories of Myrrh
After that night I went home with John
but how jarring sleeping in a different bed.
No sleep came, only the sight of blood,
thick clots darkening a face familiar yet not
and the sound of hammering–of nails,
incessant even now.
Looking back, how little I remember of
looking up at that centre cross.
There was a Roman sword that flashed in late afternoon
light, polished steel gleaming like a carpenter’s plane.
I held my breath then.
I remember too, a flock of turtle doves took flight
from the hill. Frightened, I think. Too much commotion.
John or Peter may recall something else.
Ask them. Ask my sister or ask his brothers.
But I do remember he never came for Passover seder
two nights before. I missed him then. I miss him now.
Not that the ending was a surprise, mind you.
I have memories of myrrh
given at his birth–for use at his death.
I know that now. That’s all I remember.
D. S. Martin
St. Peter's Basilica
How young she looks to have a full-grown son
draped across her knees Comprehending we pity
all her face conveys though the corpse shows
little evidence of his manner of death Every
vein bulges with life his muscles maintain their tone
so that his merely human form reflects the divine beauty
in which it was made & Michelangelo may add knowledge
to skill from all of those late nights studying anatomy
How young she looks & how large but the mountain
of cloth the genius in the fabric folds so delicately
shaped from stone holds our attention & maintains
the pyramid-like balance We sense the tragedy
of a mother losing her son & consider all that's known
from scripture The sculptor expresses his piety
using this most-perfect piece of marble & his considerable
gift to speak of love & loss humanity & deity
How young she looks as young as the artist's mother
would have been when she slipped into eternity
D.S. Martin’s poem “Pietà” is republished with permission from his book Ampersand (2018, Poiema/Cascade).
On Volunteering Twice a Week at the Drop-in Centre
Open the door. The sacred
will walk right in. Not who
you might think of—
the god with the tally card.
This version of divinity has street feet,
fills her coffee mug halfway
with sugar, like she fills
her veins with snow.
Open the door. The god
of welfare Wednesday will walk in.
Thursday and Friday will be
like Sunday—sandwich bread
broken and buttered for breakfast,
each kindness like holy juice,
each smile a prayer.
Open the door. The beloved
will come insistent—the way
he looks through racks of donations
in the back room, tries on
each coat, each scuffed shoe. See
how he stuffs more than he needs
into his backpack? He’ll trade
for what keeps him up for days.
Open the door. You’ll be a wreck
on the shore of true stories—each one
etched on your mind
like a single tear tattoo.
You’ll be a book of blank pages,
shocked at what the Beloved writes,
shocked at the scribbles
of your discerning friends.
Come in, you’ll hear yourself
say, again and again—
this doorway is my heart.
Drag in your duffel bag,
upend your cart. The Holy One is
here—you are welcome here—
as surely as this mug of tea
warms your aching hands.
Everything and Always
Stand under the pin holed dome
of night sky, far from city lights,
and galaxies will swirl in your veins,
star dust will widen your eyes.
I think I know so much. Then, I light
a beeswax candle to chase night’s gloom
and my beloved’s familiar face
becomes an exotic map I trace
amazed. As though, in the heavens
and on earth is where I’m born again.
About the poets: is a Jamaican-Canadian poet, registered psychotherapist and teacher in Pickering, Ont. is a B.C. poet who was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Toronto. of Brampton, Ont., is poet-in-residence at McMaster Divinity College.
Suggestions or submissions for Easter 2024 are welcome.