How long have I been down, immersed,
a Dunker left beneath the wave
whose new birth was to wash away
my meaningless and lost before?
And whose strong hands upon my head
still hold me under, when they swore
to offer help and kind support?
I recognize those hands,
that seemed so weak and hesitant
to grip my own in fellowship
when both of us were dry, and I
not gasping, weakly, for some air.
I see that smile refracted through
the water now between us;
and somehow, those straight even teeth
are now misshapen, ugly fangs.
Now waterlogged, with burning lungs,
I wonder: were you too baptized,
and left, a mewling helpless babe
dependent on some unseen lord?
Or like me, did the wash not stop,
while weak-kneed saints, unsatisfied
with their own empty, whitewashed space
poured into you their excess bleach
and took upon themselves the chore
of monitor and supreme judge,
in firm belief that what they heard
in whispered voices was their God?
Along some rough Damascus road
a Pharisee believed
the voice that spoke to be the Lord.
Perhaps he was deceived.
07 FEB 2005