“A Three-Act Poem for Holy Saturday” by Sammy Vickstein

I.

We hear a knock on the door from offstage.

The lights are still down. After no answer,

We hear the knock again, faster,

Panicked, even.

 

Peter, reluctant, lights a lamp.

Looks through the peephole,

Not taking any chances.

Lets John and James in.

 

“I thought I heard thunder,” he says.

James does not laugh.

John, warm, does, wraps Peter up in a hug

His friend receives.

 

“Hell of a day,” he says.

“Hell of a week,” Peter responds.

“Hell of a fucking life,” James chimes in.

Peter looks at John

John raises a pantomimed bottle to his lips,

 

Shrugs “Maybe he’s got the right idea, eh Pete?”

Peter gets the wine, pours three glasses,

Breaks bread,

And they remember like it was just two days ago.

 

 

 

 

II.

Others show up by noon.

Each afraid, confused, exhausted.

They don’t know what else to do

So they drink, eat. So they tell stories.

 

One time at a wedding…

One time on the sea…

One time…

Another time…

 

Their friend

Was special

Loved

Is gone.

 

Their lives were changed

They had hope

Saw a light

Now nothing.

 

Do they go back to old jobs, old patterns, old lives?

Peter remembers how he once,

Boldly, a little naively, told their friend

“You have the words of life, where else would we go?”

 

 

 

 

III.

But for all this their remembrance comforts

And then does not, comforts and then does not.

They remember his love, try to hold it in their communion,

Carry it to one another like bread, like a gift. But still lack.

 

They remember what they have been trying to forget–

The shock and brutality of yesterday,

Their confusion and un-mooring.

How their friend’s bloodied face was set.

 

How their friend had spoken

Of something bad coming, longed for it in some way,

Something that had to take place to usher in something good.

How they did not understand and still don’t.

 

How even their lack he knew, understood, promised to heal.

He asked them to trust, and they did some. But now

Their talk grows quiet, they grow tired.

Peter gets blankets, and they sleep away Saturday.

 

We hear a knock on the door from offstage.

The lights are still down. After no answer,

We hear the knock again, faster,

Jubilant, even.

 

Sammy Vickstein is a Tacoma writer who focuses on poetry, the odd, odd-story, and lately–ever hopeful and ever disappointed Seattle Mariners game recaps.