Unravelling and weaving, sometimes simultaneously

Baptism

When I was seven,

swept along in Revival

fascinated by pearls

falling from the mouth

of an evangelist

into the scalding water

of a backwoods baptistry,

I was immersed,

sunk into the hot wet hallucination

by my father’s hand

over my mouth and nose.

Symbolically drowned

the sound of sinking

cushioned a bubble of music

in my ears.

It could have been

the voice of my mother

or my sister

or one of dozens of others

singing an anthem of praise

as I was sacrificed

in a glass-walled pool

that southern summer noontide.

Perhaps it was a mermaid

weeping over pearls

that never were.

When I was raised up,

shivering in the sluice,

I couldn’t hear the voice anymore.

(c) RCGA 2014

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