Public Media for Central Pennsylvania
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Poetry Moment: 'Easter Greeting,' by Shanna Powlus Wheeler

Shanna Powlus Wheeler
Shanna Powlus Wheeler

This is Poetry Moment on WPSU – a weekly program featuring the work of contemporary Pennsylvania poets. Your host is poet and author Marjorie Maddox, a 2023 Monson Arts Fellow, author of 20 books, and professor of English and creative writing at the Lock Haven campus of Commonwealth University.

Welcome to Poetry Moment.

For those of the Christian faith, Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday—this year March 24—and concludes on Holy Saturday. For believers, it is a time to contemplate Christ’s final days prior to His resurrection on Easter Sunday, the most significant celebration of the Church calendar.

Today’s poem, “Easter Greeting” by Shanna Powlus Wheeler, takes us inside the Biblical account of Matthew 28:1-9. In this passage, the risen Jesus greets two women outside the tomb. “What did he say and how did he say it?” asks the poet.

Native to Clinton County, PA, Shanna Powlus Wheeler studied creative writing at Susquehanna University (BA) and Penn State (MFA). She has published two books of poetry: Lo & Behold (Finishing Line Press) and Evensong for Shadows (Resource Publications/Wipf & Stock). Her poetry is forthcoming in the anthology Keystone: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (Penn State University Press, 2025). She teaches writing courses at Lycoming College and Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, PA.

Sometimes translations fail us. How do you capture in words the resurrection of the one you called Savior, Lord, Master? When he casually says “Hiya” or solemnly nods “Hello,” how do you reply to the one who is risen from the dead? In “Easter Greeting,” poet Shanna Powlus Wheeler considers the importance of tone and what she believes may have been lost in translation.

Here’s “Easter Greeting"
(Matthew 28:1-9)

- - -

To the Marys in mourning
outside the tomb, whose feet shook
with the great rolling away—

who shielded their eyes
from the angel’s lightning-glint
and brilliant clothes—

who peered into the cave of shadows,
turned to tell the disciples,
and met Jesus instead—

what was the sound, the substance,
of his greeting?
Our translations over time

fail: All hail to Hello,
Greetings to Good morning.
What tone, what timbre,

that morning beyond good,
when the voice of the Word beyond words
drew the women to his pierced feet?

- - -

That was “Easter Greeting” by Shanna Powlus Wheeler. Thanks for listening. 

Listen for Poetry Moment with Marjorie Maddox Mondays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered on WPSU. You can more episodes at

Our theme music is by Eric Ian Farmer.

Marjorie Maddox is the host of WPSU's Poetry Moment for the 2023-24 season. She has been a professor of English and creative writing since 1990 at the Lock Haven campus of Commonwealth University.