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Baptismo Sum.

Baptismo Sum

 In this month of dehydration,
 we keep our eyes skyward, both to watch
 for rain and to avoid the scorn
 of the scorched succulents who reproach
 us silently, saying, "You promised to care."

 And so, although we thought we could stick
 these seedlings in the ground and leave
 them to their own devices, we haul
 hoses and buckets of water to the outer edges
 of the yard where the hose will not reach.

 The idea of a desert seduces,
 as it did the Desert Fathers, who fled
 the corruption of the cities to contemplate
 theology surrounded by sand
 and stinging winds. My thoughts travel
 to the Sanctuary Movement, contemporary Christians
 who risked all to rescue illegal aliens.
 I admire their faith, tested in that desert crucible.
 I could create my own patch of desert in tribute.

 Yet deserts do not always sanctify.
 I think of the Atomic Fathers
 who hauled equipment into the New Mexico
 desert and littered the landscape with fallout
 which litters our lives, a new religion,
 generations transformed in the light of the Trinity test site.

 I back away from my Darwinian, desert dreams.
 The three most popular religions
 in the world emerged from their dry desert
 roots, preaching the literal and symbolic primacy
 of water, leaving the arid ranges behind
 as they flowed toward temperance.

 I cannot reject the religion of my ancestors,
 who spent every day of their lives
 remembering their baptism before heading to the fields
 to make the dirt dream in colors.

Kristin Berkey-Abbott teaches English and creative writing at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in Florida.
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Title Annotation:POETRY
Author:Berkey-Abbott, Kristin
Article Type:Poem
Date:Aug 1, 2005
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