BAPTISMS, Jean Voneman Mikhail

Baptisms
by Jean Voneman Mikhail

We tried to touch quicksilver,
poured from a little jar
that dad had brought home
from somewhere. But each time
the drop moved away
from our fingers.
These were your tears, little brother,
untouched by our ideas of you.
That time we threw you
in a pond, we three girls laughed
as we held you by your pants,
always stained with earth’s marrow.
Your locks underwater moved
with all the astronauts in space.
You never cried
so we slapped you on the back,
comforting you.
Saying good boy, good boy.
Hush, now, don’t tell
.

A drawer in the hallway,
her baptismal gown waits.
She is so small, a curler
rolls from her hair, lopsided.
Her head drops, a word
on her tongue repeated.
She climbs in the drawer
so we close her in easily.
A baking heat in the house.
Dovetails swell, the notched wood
knocked in by the mallet
of a mighty hand.
The pajamas she wears
have a flowerscape, silky
from so many washes, soft
as the word “Fla.” on the back
of the box of orange blossom
perfume in her room.
She touches her wrists,
her pulse. Her mother
has shown her how to
sleep at the sound
of a closed door, meaning
darkness rolls in on roller skates
over slate, meaning sleep
over the open road of the car.
Her father’s foot on the brake
can’t keep her from flying.

Jean Voneman Mikhail attained a Masters Degree in Creative Writing from Ohio University. She lives in Athens, Ohio with her husband and three children. She has published in Riverwind, The Westminster Review, Maybesopoetry, Between the Lines reading, and recently was selected to participate in a poetry reading/art show.

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