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Baptism with Water Moccasin.

And the Lord said to Satan, "From where do you come? " So Satan answered the Lord and said, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it."

--The Book of Job

 His bulk amazed us,
the way he's maneuvered his folds
onto a switch of elm
directly above the baptizing hole.
after all, Cedar Creek offered
numerous spots for a snake
to wile away a Sunday, but only one
fit to baptize in.
Not even the brilliance
of proselytes, a rite of sheets
fluttering about them
in the early morning breeze,
had moved him. Not the most
floral, feathered, tasseled of hats,
nor the highest notes of a Doctor Watt
being held till the last thread
of their power--
nothing made him so much
as shift that plated lozenge of head,
shovel through the chilly fork of his tongue
to even feel us out.
It was as if he already knew
what was going on, as if
he had been returning for ages
to blaspheme the Creek.
While the deacons
crawfished into place,
one could scan the bank of faces,
almost hear people calling up Scriptures,
favorite prophets to deliver us.
The sister in the blue crepe de Chine
sees Joseph released from Potiphar's prison,
and the old man there
with Stetson still on
is remembering Daniel in the lion's den.
Over there Jonah is being spat up ...
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
Everywhere shields were rising,
going forth against the tree.
A few boys with the story
of David and Goliath
burning their hearts,
gathered stones to make war,
aimed to chuck the devil down
into the cloudy waters below,
but Pastor Gamble, an old hand
at this sort of thing, cautioned
"Leave him be, chillun.
Long as he up there,
we knows where he at."
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Author:Wilkinson, Claude
Publication:Atlanta Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Mar 22, 2019
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