Holy Week and three buffleheads on the cold river practice the rite of baptism. Their preference: complete immersion. Again and again they duck and disappear into ice-cold darkness, then emerge, shaking a zillion stars from their feathers. As if there is never enough purification, they plunge down deep and rise and dive and rise again. The week winds down, down down toward Friday. Temple draperies are torn. Darkness enfolds the earth. The dead in their stone tombs have begun stirring as if, like the sun in the morning, they will rise.
Aristotle writes that we would never go to the theater to see terrible things happen to a good man through no fault of his. Yet here we gather, aching for a good man’s sorrows and turning to him to make sense of our own.
Memphis is known for blues, barbecue, and kings. Elvis Presley, the "king of rock 'n' roll," shook, rattled, and rolled his way to stardom by drawing from the art of African Americans. He was, arguably, bigger than Jesus before John Lennon made that controversial claim for the Beatles in the 1960s. In that decade, Memphis became infamous for what happened to the preacher King. There to support the sanitation workers strike of 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and the legacy of bloodshed continues to haunt the city.
Elvis and Martin are not the only kings of Memphis. There's also the king of kings.