Jul 10, 2012

Baptism

Written by Dennis Hinrichsen

Read by Chelsea Woodard

I held my breath a long time before I let the drowning take over.
And then I was stood up, was put upon.

Larynx like a great cup wrapped in muscle
held to the light.

Jesus yip and howl.
Pre-Janis, pre-James Brown.

More pop than anything.
Beatle-esque, Mersey Beat.

The preacher’s hands still snorkeling my mouth.
White gown heavy and gelatinous with holy tap water.

It would take a long time before the howl
would cure

into something rawer, more sexual.
Wilson Pickett’s Midnight Hour, Sam and Dave,

The Four Tops.
Motown poverty gloving my white boy’s hands

like a beautiful suede
as I pawed

whoever I was with back then
in the back of my father’s aqua Mustang

and got pawed back.
The organs of voice and respiration—

the catamaran of the lungs
when we curled up and pretended to sleep,

the mediastina,
the cargoed hearts—

dormant for a while in the mystery of skin
and Jesus

until the hermit (whose land this was, this back road)
crashed through the trees.

In her face lit by dash light I saw the moon
of my becoming

take its second shape as I fish-tailed out
of a pile of spitting gravel,

hermit with a shotgun like a cross-beam
and a pumping fist.

We’d stolen something from him we couldn’t name
and so we hit the highway.

Sucked our breath.
Radio-offed his rage.

She lifted her head to laugh, revealed for an instant
her muscular throat.

Scent of her skin on my skin,
I brought my fingers to my face

and let the coolness breathe.
Then rocked the car and pushed ahead into the valley of her singing.

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