10 January 2021—The Baptism of the Lord
Falling since morning
a whiteness common elsewhere
but rare enough in these climes
covers sights all too common here
and now the world is luminous
look my neighbor says how clean
like life’s washed in bleach made pure.
the Styrofoam cup still lying in the gutter
a lump indistinct and cosmetized like
a lesion swollen just beneath the skin
and dog feces and mud—blemishes
chilled in ice but not repaired or healed
they wait tomorrow’s sun to come to light.
Inside the sanctuary
the celebrant speaks the words prescribed to say
at the font and grasps the aspergillum
dips and raises flings the droplets
over child and parent gathered at the mercy seat
who’ve gamely renounced evil and its ways—
a promise they won’t keep of course or can’t.
it’s worked in deeper than the bone
a faulty step on the ladder
of the double helix of creation
but still the prayer perhaps more fervent now
(however frail) that this sacred aerosol
might scour clean what whiteness only masks.
It’s all we have.
It’s all we will ever have.