My Freedom Lawn
The Easter Bunny Talks
They will wait in line for hours if that’s
what it takes.
Mothers get the kids up early one Passover
morning to bathe them,
blow-dry, and brush them before cladding them
in pastel blues, pinks, and whites.
Billowing lace-edged dresses, big bows,
white gloves, patent leather shoes
for the little girls, and tan or light-blue
blazers, white shirts,
and clip-on ties for the little boys while
the mothers never get out of
their baggy but comfortable sweatsuits.
This is mainstream America—
this is McLennan County, Texas where mothers
and children are waiting in line
at K-Mart to have pictures made for Easter.
They stand in line as though
awaiting audience with Ross Perot, with Billy Graham,
or at least with David Koresh
rather than a six-foot powder-blue bunny,
looking a little mangy,
make-up softening a two-day’s growth of beard.
The line does not seem to
ever move, yet the photographer, a recent Baylor
University graduate, looks frenzied
and exhausted from trying to create ideal
innocence, a kind of kiddie glamour
shot over and over with real live kids from
Texas: here is one five-year old
girl, a stunning blonde with enough rouge
and lipstick to be a child
prostitute in a David Lynch film, next to a little
boy who has jellybeans stuck in his
nose and about to suffocate while two mothers
frantically try to extract them.
A baby cries unceasingly for its mother
to unbutton her shirt
with W-A-C-O (“We Ain’t Comin’ Out”) printed
on it and stick a swollen
nipple in its greedy little mouth.
There is the smell of rotten
eggs (Eggs! Not Crosses!) wafting down the line,
and the mothers spell each
other to go pee or smoke in the parking lot
where a battalion of tanks
has assembled for a final assault on Apocalypse Ranch.
A man who claims to be both deaf
and diabetic approaches the women, offering them
red plastic poppies for a donation
before they go back inside to the store’s psy-op
program of subliminal sound and light.
Two mothers try to separate Larry Joe and
Baby Sherman struggling loudly over
a football-sized silver egg with the Cowboy’s star
on it while another mother nervously feels
The hot forehead of a complaining little girl,
her baby-blue eyes filmy and bloodshot,
her skin pallid and clammy: oh, God! After
waiting here all this time!
You are seeing all of this through the eye slits
of the Giant Easter Bunny
who can only tolerate the hot, saw-dust
leaking costume by sniffing
cocaine in the bathroom on his breaks.
He would like to liberate all of
the true children of Israel but his job is to sit
in the plywood Easter Basket chair
surrounded by Easter eggs the size of boulders,
let kids climb into his furry lap,
and try to look cuddly and endearing for the camera.
Some of the children become beatific
and radiate Renaissance nimbi while in his lap,
some reveal their unconscious membership
in ancient hunting fraternities, and some
look up at those larger-than-life teeth
and hypnotic, pupil-less pink eyes and scream as
though they were about to be torn
limb from limb by a Stephen King monster.
This isn’t really a Christian
mythic event anymore, is it? Never has been.
During the ritual celebration of spring
you should expect to see nymphs, satyrs, and
the White Goddess in procession, ushering
in a pretty child bound and fettered for the annual
sacrifice to be followed by wild and violent
copulating among the satyrs and all the waiting
mothers only half-heartedly trying
to elude the furry, priapic clasp of the goat-rabbit men
slightly hobbled by sweatpants pushed
down around their ankles. Finally it is over;
time for the store to close.
There has been a steady parade of beautiful
children to pass before the photographer’s
lens today. From the pictures, it will be easy to
imagine that their lives are perfect:
that none of them will ever be neglected or unloved,
that none of them will ever be abused,
that none of them will ever be in trouble with the law
for believing in false prophets.
John A. Blackard