Creek Baptizing

Creek Baptizing

The water in which we stood
was held by the ground as if
in the palm of a hand.
It held us
softly at the waist in the manner of children.
We stood in water blessed not by words
but by intercourse with miles of earth,
Stained like glass with the goings-forth and returnings
of brilliant life, in endless cadences.
Sand from the creek bottom still mingled
and played in the backwater from
recent swimming
And so we stepped into the water
and into the earth.

The talk about this I had heard
to indelible memory in hot sermons
heard from butt-crippling benches
While ladies then old troubled the locked air
with fiddle-shaped fans
from funeral homes.
The handles of those things reminded me
of rippled blunt wooden swords.
Those were days
when I longed for moisture and coolness;
Those were days when I craved a dance
with long grass in the ground-mist
and to wear its coat of wet diamond:
To justly join its parching in the brooding
afternoon, and become straw.

Then at the creek, inevitable words all done,
serene abandon, soft descent,
a recline into the ancient
waiting embrace of Earth,
A moment's eternity, a bringing up,
and the thing was done;
In the rising a momentary fountain
for the visible sign.

Now in rooms endless with coffee and intellect
I talk among others of its meaning,
and that is well enough,
but we cannot bend these tones of birth
to be consonant with words
nor erase with erudition the curing death
of random naked fate and aimless destiny.
When we quit the deafness of analysis
we hear the aria of compassion,
the first music of the resonating world
sufficient to all its endings.

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Sojourners Magazine May 1993
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