December 31, 2021

(for Kristine)

She walks the nave to sprinkle water
from the font, Christmas greens
still vivid in the January pall. Our collars
water-beaded, even our eyelids wet,
we sing “On Jordan’s Bank” for
the Baptism of Our Lord. Tongues
catch stray drops, like children
catch the rain, all of us laughing,
all of us thirsty. When she preaches
it’s to say God’s promises are with us,
good to the end and beyond the end,
her dad across the aisle, the little
girl who runs and reaches for her arms.
We want to believe her, cool spray
finding our skin at “cleansed be every
breast.” We almost believe her.

The old Welsh caroled “Levy-dew,
oh levy-dew,” splashing water
from their sacred wells to see in
each new year. And sheepishly I do
the same, opening the west door to let
the old year go, making the new year
welcome through the east door in
the empty dawn before the neighbors
wake. Like a child up early, I keep
the day as holy in a way I don’t
yet understand, but trust.

I want to believe her, that the water
is a wonder, washing out the old
and replenishing with new, that grace
wells like a fresh stream in fields
snow-crusted and silver as the new
year rises in a winter sky, and I stand
at the door singing levy-dew