- Baptism with a Pond in It
—for Michael Waters
I saw my sister resurrect, wetand shining, and applauded and spunto sprint up the hill from the pondbut the water, sweet dumband warm still, and the preacher’s thumband finger clamped, pushed my body into whatwas made to bring me closer to—
body of water apportioning wherethe only water roaring wasquick to suffocate my face.I closed my eyes and searched forthe river and there only could placemy father drunk, unspooling me like acarpet into the water, his arm a firm caneforcing the body in.
But how I wanted to stay below,void of sound and drumswole cello,void of white bright. The body buoyant bellowand effervescing halo,an ocean swelling the capillary and marrow.
What was the sin, for what to atoneas a child in drenched Sunday robes who wept?The hope of transformation, and not for any joynor salvation, dear father—what arrivessuddenly in a dirty moat, a preacher’s sodden bay?Even the fish won’t take up residence. Let us pray.What’s left in the water will not wash away. [End Page 108]
Carey Salerno is the executive editor and director of Alice James Books. She is also the author of Shelter (2009) and coeditor of Lit from Inside: Forty Years of Poetry from Alice James Books (2013). She teaches courses in poetry and creative writing for the University of Maine at Farmington and has been invited to teach or lecture on poetry and editing at places like the University of Michigan, Indiana University, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and Texas State University. You may find her poems—and articles and interviews regarding her other professional work—in print and online at www.careysalerno.com.