Shards

by revbillcook

Noah’s mother hands him to me.

He has that warm milky  newborn smell.

As I tip him backward

his violet eyes, perfectly round, open.

.

I dip my hand into the font

cupping water in my palm. I raise it,

water dripping through my fingers,

running down my arm.  I pour a thin stream

onto his  forehead.  Tiny rivulets run

through his hair, down the sides of his face.

He looks into my eyes.

.

I repeat the words the church has spoken for 2000 years:

“ I baptize you In the name of the Father…”

Words are such thin fragile vessels, not sufficient

to bear the weight of what we sometimes pour into them.

I dip my hand again, again pouring water,

“and in the name of the Son…”

Words begin to crack.

A third time water runs down Noah’s face and hair,

his skin,  smooth as an eggshell.

“And in the name of the Holy Spirit…”

I place my hand on his forehead

To speak words of blessing.

The air is filled with fragments

of broken words, letters and syllables

falling to the chancel floor.

.

I return Noah to his mother. Tears

form small pools under her eyes

and run down her face.

The family returns to their pew

feet covered with tiny shards.

.

I sit, trembling slightly as I often do after such things.

I lean over to wipe a few stray vowels from my shoes.

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