Litkicks Message Board Archive
Baptism in Florida (PC)
Baptism in Florida
Noontime on an ageing Florida coastline,
I pray, hung over, anemic, alone.
Striped in sunlight, my pasty, big city body—
hands-folded, lying in bed like a corpse—
thaws like meat on a kitchen counter
(waiting for the psychologist’s prophecy,
waiting for concerns to be tenderized away).
Ocean air navigates the room,
it’s salty; it greets my lips like the breath of a stranger.
Two, two-thirty: preheating complete, I walk to the waves;
a plastic beach chair waits like a throne.
Sand is marble; overweight men are Roman sculptures.
And those buoyant breasts, those life-affirming nipples
hidden like a bald spot on a Jew’s head: they are gods,
they are the Mother and the Daughter.
The delicious bikinis! They carry crosses on their backs!
They are the sun and they are the sand.
My saviors! My laity!
Give me alms, give me alms, give me alms…
Three, three-thirty: the sun is heavy; I sink further within.
Memory waits like a chauffeur.
Chicago, a hospital, a mistake: it all returns.
The frozen, masculine landscape reels by; I read it like a book.
The sterile chill of his office embosoms his narcotic sofa.
How could this mind be fragile! How could a needle taste so delicious!
Think! You’re thousands of miles away, thousands of breaths apart!
I know! I know! I am God now…but these are the same legs, same lungs…
Three-thirty, four: the sandy congregation disperses as the tide recedes.
Midwestern women, creased, halfway to death,
carry dreaming children on their shoulders like sacks of insignificance.
Women live and die; children dream and wake.
But the sea is eternal; it has no memory.
The holy water undulates like a blue blanket in the wind.
It beckons me for baptism, for purging.
It’s lapping against my knees; my legs feel sliced from my body
as the sun burns from above. I consume it,
my body consumes the sun like an insect consumes oxygen.
The water is above my head; it tastes like lemon.
My dripping hair floats in the wind, dries in the sun.
My eyes sting.
It is done! It is…done.
Nothing left to do but breathe until death.
Breathe with those lungs,
the same damn lungs blackened by Chicago…