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Poetry

Before your birth, a priest once laid
his ear against your mother’s stomach
and heard your heart murmur
rumors of an earthquake.

The day you were born, the same priest laid
his hand against your breastbone,
reshaped you, son, and cut a passage
through the Red Sea of your blood,

not breathing life’s breath into you
mouth-to-mouth like God and Adam,
but giving you back your own heart,
your own lungs, your own blood,

oxygen rich, a wise man’s gift
transcending gold
and frankincense and myrrh.
I was shown a miracle. I believe

in these ritual purifications
over a stainless-steel basin.
In that sacrificial scalpel.
In those sacerdotal scrubs

anointing you in iodine
and dunking you,
twice born,
under anesthetic Lethe.

In this sacred heart.
In this salvation.
In them.
In you.


The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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