Issue 112, Winter 1989
A Father at His Son’s Baptism
Cutlet carved from our larger carcasses:
thus were you made —from spit and a hug.
The scratchy stuff you’re lying on is wool.
You recognize the pressure of your mother’s hand.
That white moon with a bluish cast is a priest’s face,
frowning over a water bowl. Whatever befalls you now,
you’ve been blessed, in a most picturesque
and ineffective ceremony, dating from the Middle Ages.
Outdoors, the church lawn radiates a lethal green.
A gas truck thunders down the street.
Why, at emotional moments, do the placid trees
and landscape look overexposed, almost ready
to bleach away, and reveal the workings
of “the Real” machine underneath?
All bundled up on such a hot day:
whose whelp, pray tell, or mutton chop are you?
— tail-less, your cloudy gaze a vague accusation,
not of the sins of my history, but ignorance
to come, future cruelty. You’re getting red
in the face, blotchy, ready to wail. Good.
From now on protest and remember everything.
Your cries assail even the indigent dead,
buried in charity plots right outside,
slowly they’re releasing their heat, while you,
born out of the blue into a wheezing spring,
watch a chaotic mosaic assemble itself.
You tune up. My love for you is half adrenaline,
half gibberish. More Latin and the priest
splatters you. He’s got one good eye,
and a black patch, like a pirate.