The Baptism
For Ceilidh

We are all still dressed for church, carrying the sun
umbrellas above us. We are the characters crossed
out from Victorian love novels, our expectations
much greater than can be fulfilled.

I thought it would be different in Fukuoka.
The water is littered with Pocari Sweat
cans and hoards of inflatable rafts,
bobbing like forgotten dinghies.

The congregation walks around teens
in one-piece swimsuits, leaning over Hawaii
blue Shave Ice on picnic tables, eyes
American with foreign apathy.

Some of us carry our shoes like children
who cannot carry themselves.
The sand is a breed of fire between my toes.

The pastor walks into the tide with his preaching
suit. I wonder if for a moment, like Jesus, he will glaze
the water with his feet, his skin escaping
the inconvenience of wetness.

You told me you wanted it to happen here.
What you didn’t know is that this is the ceremony
Japanese Christians spend years preparing
and anticipating, that your sudden arrival
was no excuse for them to change traditions.

But they took you, and you follow him
into the water. The church stands on the shore,
as if you are a boat we are casting off to sea.
He buries your body.
My sister, my sister!
We watch for a spirit resurrected from water. 

unnamedMeg Eden‘s work has been published in various magazines, including Rattle, Drunken Boat, Eleven Eleven, and Gargoyle. Her poem “Rumiko” won the 2015 Ian MacMillan award for poetry, and she has four poetry chapbooks in print. She teaches at the University of Maryland. Check out her work at: www.megedenbooks.com

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