Lance Larsen: "Water"


by Lance Larsen


Immersion-it sputters from their mouths
half word, half gargle. "To hold
your breath," a tiny girl says, "to go under
like Jesus." Now they want to try it,
these six-year-olds, so I lead them
through the hall to the unfilled font.

Four steps down and we're buried
in blue tile. They trace the grout,
watching it powder under their nails.
And who was John? "The hairy one,"
they answer, "who wears heavy skins."
"Dips crickets in honey." I kneel,

and the nearest child steps forward.
My right arm squared, left hand circling
his wrist, I take him into that grave
of imagined water. Then the others.
They dip easily, like foldable dolls.
They rise up from air sipping air.
If they picture whiteness, it's a color,
or something to wear, not a state
they've learned to yearn for. Outside,
in a collar of fog, snow piles deeper.
Christmas a shy three weeks away, and only
adults like me needing to come clean.