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.