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bi_janus

Whitman among the Baptists

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Whitman Among the Baptists


Bi Janus



“What a friend we have in …”


With own eyes level


between heaven and hell


the boy finds his eyes


in the back of the hall.


Easing against the wall,


water drips from his linen shirt


fresh from some baptismal font.


Both hear the crowd’s voices,


raised as one, rattle


the metal folding chairs,


as, eyes closed and faces


turned toward heaven,


it searches for Him —


it could only be Him.



Bird song over the drooping sun,


beards and loose joints,


muscles and sweat smell


break the spell


as the boy pulls his arm


over his own shoulder, shelter


from the believers’ fears,


his needs too close


under his skin, pressing


against crowd conscience,


pulling him away from Him


toward him.


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Yes! As he sang it himself:

'Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touch’d from,/ The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer,/ This head more than churches, bibles, and all the creeds.'

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