Baptisms

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natebaptismYou took me by surprise
appearing in this photo beside me
our heads so close together I could whisper something to you
and no one else would have heard
standing on the church altar
more than three decades ago

We pledged to be good spiritual guardians
to our newborn twin nephews
who’d been made fatherless the very night they were born
a drunk driver stealing their more traditional life
with your brother’s blood
my sister the grieving widow
single mother

You were good with the babies
patient when they cried
playing with them on gingham blankets
cooing in their ears
and pushing burps from their preemie stomachs
as you draped them across your knees

My date for the Sade Hawkins dance
as a couple we were uneasy
it felt unnatural
since we’d already spent countless hours raising children together
peeling dried Cheerios off the linoleum
coating diaper rashed rumps with Desitin

And then you died too
in a car
on your way to school
black ice at a stop sign

You took me by surprise
appearing in this photo beside me
our heads so close together I could whisper something to you:
You were loved.
I miss you.

 

December 2012
Julie Ayers

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