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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

Easter Redux: A Cento

By: Jean Theron

Tourists await

the whistle-blow to start

The Resurrection—

packed churches all over—

a beautiful time

a lavish tenet

an Easter Mass

of Sunday hats held over

Sunday hearts—

a syndrome in which

the afflicted cry

forgive, oh please

forgive, our tormentors.

Girls and boys in pastels,

in frilly dresses, shiny faced—

such soap-scented tension

in a first pair

of bone-colored pumps.

The hollow chocolate bunny

with the creepy candy eyes

in that state of trance—

a mind of its own.

It might be a child’s first taste

of deception—

all that anticipation

and inside: nothing

a big, showy product

a mouthful of air.

Isn’t it cruel—

confronted with emptiness

the tongue

has the power of life and death.


Jean Theron is a writer and poet based in Washington, DC. She has published her work in literary journals including Harpur Palate, Rust & Moth, The Shore, and One. Her other writings have been published in Yes! Magazine and Resilience. @jeantheronpoet |

Behind the Scenes:

"This poem is a cento constructed from lines snipped from The New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, a recipe website, a couple of personal blogs by different authors, The Symbolism of Poetry by W.B. Yeats, and The Bible (KJV). My one invention, added to spike the punch I suppose, was the line 'such soap-scented tension.' I want the reader to have a sensory experience, to immerse themselves, if only momentarily, in sights and scents that place them in the world of the poem.

I’ve rarely written about popular holidays or events, so I was intrigued by working on a poem related to Easter. For me, religious holidays tend to evoke a kaleidoscope of everything from marketing gimmicks to memories of genuine bonds and affection. I was raised in a community that took Easter fairly seriously, but my memories are more or less a hodgepodge of Easter egg hunts, snazzily dressed pastors, zealous congregants, and of course, big, colorful baskets presided over by the ubiquitous hollow chocolate bunny. I felt that a cento would be a good form to reflect the sense of disjointedness inherent in the act of recollection.

Not all of the poem is derived from mental photographs of a ‘90s childhood. I originally drafted the poem during the waning days of Trump’s presidency. Some might remember that Trump called for 'packed churches all over' for Easter Sunday during the onset of the first wave of COVID-19. He said it would be 'a beautiful time.' There is little I can think of that desecrates a holiday such as this one more than needlessly putting people’s lives in danger. The bitter sarcasm freighting the poem’s early lines preserves a time that is still painfully recent and in my opinion should never be forgotten."


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