Two Poems

Peter Pereira

        —Weekly World News, July 18, 2005

Who needs it anymore, anyway, my love?
Its wan light was overrated, not even its own.
Unstable, unreliable, its inconstant waxing
and waning making my skin shiver,
each morning tasting of cold milk.
I'm ready to move on: let dark
be dark. Unremorseful. No longer
anybody's satellite but my own.
The night sky free of this old bulb,
and full of stars.


It used to be more private—just the
immediate family gathered after mass,
the baptismal font at the rear
of the church tiny as a bird bath.
The priest would ladle a few teaspoons
tepid holy water on the bundled baby's
forehead, make a crack about the halo
being too tight as the new soul wailed.
We'd go home to pancakes and eggs.

These days it's a big Holy-wood production—
mid-mass, the giant altar rolls back to reveal
a Jacuzzi tub surrounded by potted palms.
The pastor hikes up his chausible, steps
barefoot out of his black leather loafers
and wades in like a new-fangled John as
organ music swells and the baby-bearing families
line up like jumbo jets ready for liftoff.

But when the godparents handed my niece's newborn
naked to their parish priest, and he dunked her
into the Jacuzzi's bath-warm holy water,
her little one grew so calm and blissful she
pooped—not a smelly three-days worth, explosive
diaper load, but enough to notice. As the godparents
scooped the turds with a handkerchief,
the savvy priest pretended he hadn't seen,
swept through the fouled water with his palm
before the next baby in line was submerged.

After mass, my niece sat speechless,
red-faced, not knowing what to say—
or whether—as church ladies, friends and
family members presented one by one to
the tub where the babies had been
baptized. As they knelt and bowed
and dipped their fingers in,
and blessed themselves.

"Holy Shit" previously published in Art Access.

Peter Pereira

Peter Pereira is as a family physician at in Seattle, and an editor at Floating Bridge Press. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Prairie Schooner, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Journal of the American Medical Association, and elsewhere. His books include The Lost Twin (Grey Spider 2000), and Saying the World (Copper Canyon 2003), which won the Hayden Carruth Award, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, the Triangle Publishing Award, and the PEN USA Award in Poetry. His next book, What's Written on the Body, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press. His favorite horse is the Arabian: a swift, intelligent, graceful horse known for its endurance and loyalty.