by Lane Falcon
Giovanni and I meet for the second time in months
to baptize our daughter, who led my attention
from him to the metal birth table,
then lay shrieking as light lapped over her,
seeped into her mouth, past her closed
eyelids. You are the one.
In ’79, they’d reserve a church for one,
but Cecilia’s one of four today. At six months,
the oldest of this batch about to be closed
in the Catholic satchel. The priest jokes for our attention
how do you get rid of a pest? Just baptize her!
and gavels the table
of decades-long awkward silence. Inevitable,
Ceci wakes. Light drawn to the satin of her one
expensive dress doesn’t warm her.
November seventeenth . . . how many months
before they justify heat? My attention
expands, contracts, enclosed
in this marble skull, a crescent enclosed
in the stain-glass window’s tableau
of St. Francis and the Wolf. We all want attention.
The choir of my cells sang: He’s the one—
the opus of our hormones. Those months
it floated me, began her.
The priest asks: Why are you here today? To lean her
over the font, under his closed
fist dropping water. Did the nine months
she steeped in my grieving table
a harsher climate? I wanted her more than anyone,
E.P.T. on the bathtub ledge, my attention
pinned to the faint blue cross, so much attention
I thought I imagined it. Conception begins her
relationship with God. At thirty-one,
what I thought had closed,
one night, fell open. I froze outside that stable
Today I sit enclosed in her
attention, the cake on the table,
The One. We’ll stay this way for months.