Easter is breathing in the east.
After downing victuals of mildly grease-soaked Mississippi country sausage bathed in Creole mustard aboard a two-week old onion roll, the remainder of a sweet tea from today’s lunch, and a pair of chocolate peanut butter eggs, I can feel my mind slowing to a stock standstill, eager for the pillow. College basketball is hovering on the muted television, today’s newspaper – a less than stellar daily – is scattered across the couch ad hoc to my right, my son is fast asleep in his cradle, and the family cat, Gurdy, as obese as a pumpkin, flopped down from the foot-high perch on the rocker she’s been curled up in for the better part of the evening.
At this point, I can hear only the whirring of my computer’s internal organs and the occasional high-pitched timbre of the analog tube inside the television set. And yet, outside our cottage walls, a freight train crowds the night as it lumbers across the Cumberland River atop Shelby Bottoms, bellows its deep fragrance and leaps northward out of the city. I could live no nearer train tracks than I do now; all that sound, all that steel, the grease, and the smell of oiled and burnt railroad ties, lying there in support of momentary passage, heightened commerce and resurrecting such lumbering vessels.
Tomorrow begins. Today ceases. The darkness defies the antihero. He suffers in the garden sweating as if with blood. A scrub jay finally ceases its day long ruckus and roosts on a lower olive bough nearby allowing Jesus a night of fitful prayer to himself. He absorbs the scourge of every man. Another man, in a different town, awakens from a dream in which he has passed through the eye of a No. 8 Schmetz sewing needle. He feels blow after fisted blow. A woman defeatedly hails a cab in the early dawn after a night with her married lover. He carries felled timbers to his own demise. You curse the day you were born into this world. He receives humiliation with abandon. I mock life by hoarding it for myself.
He kneels and rakes the dust of the ground with his fingers, telling with no words a story we ache to hear and take part in with as much as fullness as an orchard pregnant with vigor and life. We long for it because we need the commonality of that gentle and forever grace. The proud and the religious and the meek and the sore and the ill and the fallen shall inherit the Good Grace of every fervent second chance, with its undoubtable intentions. But seeing, in the rippled dust of the storyline, a little or large part of ourselves, all shuttered and shackled in anguish and desperation, utterly fallible as lumbering vessels, we find ourselves ultimately delivered; delivered as pilgrims unto the New and Free World, Adam unto Eden, Moses unto Promised Land, Endurance unto safe harbor, Jesus unto his Father’s house.
May the risen crowd the dawn with shouts of blessing and exultation, for all are blessed, but not all are risen.
Eric Peters, affectionately called “Pappy” by those who love him, is the grand old curmudgeon of the Rabbit Room. But his small stature and often quiet presence belie a giant talent. He’s a songwriter of the first order, and a catalogue of great records bears witness to it. His last album, Birds of Relocation, blew minds and found its way onto “year’s best” lists all over the country. When he’s not painting, trolling bookstores, or dabbling in photography, he’s touring the country in support of his latest record, Far Side of the Sea.