Saturday, August 03, 2013

Baptising My Baby

By Claudia Ricci

What was this? What creature?
I wasn't sure, but wait,
Mary said, very clearly,
that I gave birth to her,
that I am her mother,
but how can this possibly be?
I AM MUCH TOO OLD FOR THIS
My children are long grown,
into fine adults, the three
SO WHO IS THIS BABY
AND WHAT IS SHE DEMANDING OF ME?

At first, I think
I must be going out of my mind.
This baby is a figment
a fragment,
and these are the thoughts of a truly crazy person,
I am not thinking straight, I even spelled
crazy
craisy, crasy, craisy,
it wasn't until my husband pointed this
out now
I am shouting, I want out,
I want no part of this damned
child, the creature who seems to
want to
eat me alive starting with my heart.

But wait.
I jostle her,
her tiny butt,
I rock her I cradle her head
against the bare skin of my chest
Up against my saggy breasts.
Mary says
She wants only one 
only one thing from your
heart to your heart she
want you to start to
LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE
her
from you
to you

I breathe in and hold my breath
and close my eyes and shudder
and Mary keeps speaking:
This child is you your baby your body
you 
and all things feminine in the youniverse
This is the daughter of your soul
and you must comfort her forever
The more you push her away the more
frantic she will be.
So love her no matter what.

So I caress and cradle
her head
and whisper to her me, I will never
ever push you away, do you
hear me? You are welcome here
as long as you want to stay
I will not run away.

These words soothe her rubbery limbs
she goes limp as I sit in the rocker
stroking her to sleep. Very quietly
I get up from the chair and carry
her into my bedroom and set her down.
I pile pillows all around her,
and tiptoe out of the room,
as it is time for me to go running.

I tie my bright blue running shoes
and head out the door when
I hear shrieking
I cringe
I hear Mary's words again:
She doesn't trust you,
she knows full well 
you were lying 
all along
you were planning your escape.

What can I do but return to
the bedroom and pick her up
and start all over to soothe her
to tell her how deeply I love her
How I never ever planned to
abandon her.

To show her my commitment
I strap her into the front of my
blue running bra and head out.
I ignore her fingernails
digging into my chest
her skinny feet
kicking at my ribs,
I never even flinch
when I feel her warm pee
soaking my shorts.
We slowly climb the first hill.
up and down the second hill
me panting,
me my
heart
pumping she
keeps her face buried in my chest

Until finally we are
back in the yard
to the pond where,
he smiles at me
I see myself in the mirrored surface
of the water.

As Mary said, she wants
Only love love love love
my love and my infinite
acceptance
from me.
To see, she said, that you 
will keep loving me
no matter what no
matter if it feels hard
I must feel deep deep regard


With her
against my chest
her tiny skull in my cupped hand
I lean back I
do the back stroke
We are
clinging so tightly to each
me
we are one we love the water,
and then it occurs to
me, that if she is my baby me
then I must have a suitable name
ME LOVING ME ME ME ME
this is
as Mary
says this is the opportunity of a lifetime

I close my eyes and gaze right into
the water or me calls out the name, \
a version of my own middle name I shout
JEANNA (pronounced GEE-NA.)
over and over and over
Jeanna Jeanna Jeanna Jeanna Jeanna
A fine name Mary whispers
And now it is time
to finish.
Finish? Mary, Mary,what do you mean?
Finish what? Mary remains silent.
I watch the fish wiggling through the cool green water.
I listen to the warm wind speaking
JEANNA JEANNA
Out of nowhere comes the word.
Baptism.
Of course.
Mary speaks
I will help christen you your child 
you two into one you
Kneeling at the edge of the water
I cup my hands and
lift
let the pond water dribble
over my forehead. I say a Hail Mary.
A feeling of pure joy comes over me

I feel my chest my heart beating
one two one two one two
an endless march and Mary
when I am looking up
she is smiling. Now the surface of the pond
is striped
in rays of sunlight
I wrap myself in a towel.
I walk back to the house
Thinking how happy I am
I am that I am
JEANNA.

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