The still surface lifted by morning fog
as if a bed sheet
that I’m beneath, in the silt, hair reaching,
skin frog-throat white:
like a calf dropped in a gopher hole,
birth blind and slimy.
Bits of land in the current tumbling by.
Above the water, a wavering man,
a flick of dark snot on powdered dirt,
a grounded thing to rise to, up through degrees
(temperature, light, ratio of water to air)
into fabric softener and deodorant,
lips on whiskers; the loitering familiar.
And time like a heron’s skating shadow.
That’s how I imagined it, and how, if I
allow myself, I remember it and not
wet feet squelching on traction-bubbled
blue plastic, or sluicing lukewarm water
or any of the other childish and
mundane sensations of the bath,
only this one in front of a fidgeting audience,
God’s image veiled by a cotton/poly blend
guaranteed opaque when wet. And that
middle aged and mild man wearing
his small, rural seminary like a hair style was no
camel skinned wildness; nothing to
acquiesce to, no dove.
I didn’t believe a word then and don’t now
and yet I was there, under the water,
and the magic was done to me.
I feel it, a kind of blush,
whenever I’m lucky – remembering
those congratulatory hands pulled
from mean Sunday pockets
and pressed into my own:
the grace of that meat and bone
gifted me in misplaced faith
is proof enough of having been born new.
Matt Thomas is a livestock farmer and occasional community college teacher. His work has appeared recently in Galway Review, The Wild Word, and Triggerfish Critical Review and is upcoming in the Hampden-Sydney Review. He lives with his partner and their daughter in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.