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Baptism by Sea

A boy of 6 stirs from his sleep,
His eyes are moist, his throat is dry
He calls out for his old Grandmother,
He pricks his ears: there’s no reply.

Quietly, slowly, he leaves his bed,
From his window, the moon-lit sky
He holds his breath as he searches the house,
finds it empty and he knows not why.

The front door’s open, a breeze gushes in,
Lights from the piazza lure him outside.
Black clad women grinning in torchlight
He think’s he’s dreaming, he can’t decide.

Humming softly they make for the sea,
To the desolate cliff behind the old mansion,
The boy follows closely, it hurts his bare feet,
A fear in his heart that no one could fathom.

A circle is formed, a fire in the middle,
The music of drums begins to rattle,
The baker’s wife plays with her fiddle,
Shadows stir in the run down castle.

The circle of dancers slowly speeds up,
Beating on cymbals and shaking their bangles,
Their cacophonous cries rise up to the heavens,
Arms wrapped round each other in blasphemous tangles.

The chanting and dancing stop all of a sudden,
A small baby boy is raised from black rags,
The sea near the cliff seems to bubble and foam,
Something is wading its way through the crags.

A shiney black tentacle oozes ashore,
Surely a tendril of some ancient creature
Its tip quickly touching the baby’s forehead,
A terrifying symbol is traced as a feature.

The women ecstatic burst laughing and howl
The boy recognizes his grandma and great aunts,
They baptized the newborn to serve the fowl creature,
With rituals in which nothing of this earth counts

My bare feet were bleeding and I was alone,
The rest of the male townsfolk out fishing at sea.
A weeping 6 year old, I made my way home,
Knowing the mark was also on me,
Knowing I’d see things that you’ll never see.


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