Site icon Alexander Hammil

Eucharist

Bitter herbs and rare and wine.

The ritual questions: Why? Why? Why? Why? One for each son, according to his wisdom, according to his malice, according to his indifference. Bitter herbs and salted water, to remember the beginnings, to remember the cycle. Spring has come and the bitterest buds are the tenderest.

The wine passes around the table and the questions are asked again, by the youngest. Why? Why? Why? Why? And the food is eaten and the questions are unanswered, the knowledge trapped within the food, digested, passed through into blood, turned into flesh to sweat and decay and sweeten.

Bread breaking above the sandy floor, crumbs there among the remembrance of desert. Elbows bent in conviviality, ritual words savored like the rich meat that comes later.

“Take this and eat,” says the eldest. Bread breaks again and passes around and all smile and salt and swallow.

“Take this and drink,” says the youngest, and swallows too quickly and flushes and the cup passes around.

The eggs are picked apart and eaten and the ceremony breaks apart into laughter, song, family. The lamps burn low and no one tends the wicks on this festal night. Bitter herbs and wine.

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