Baptism: Jacqueline Susann

I am not the other.
We dolorosa twins fled Egypt,
hand in jewelled hand, serene
royal felines, our cast-iron hair
untroubled by bullets and cancers.
My chrism’d forehead bloods us now,
and one day in her desperate nervous calm—
This painting was a gift from the French government
to the American people—

I caught my drugged Ophelia face.
But I am not the other…

Hildegarde’s piano fingers
point to St. Paul’s ceiling
:midnight constellation fresco—
heaven’s blueprint and those stars:
they horoscoped my morning here;
marble sings my steps and
every heelclick’s morse for daddy.

Planet Daddy, peek through those pinholes.
I look perfect today, watch myself
being watched.
Priest smiles
I step carefully toward him, the glamour of evil
a gracious beauty queen God’s judged the best.
White gloved hands and all his pomps
perch on the birdbath
I do renounce them and bob for Jesus.

Doctor God, how long do soul-jobs last?
Tried everything else
:skin stretched so the light shines through,
and lovers. Today: this saint’s tiara,
gold leaf clover, cheaper than mink
and twice as warm, for now.

Not nervous at all,
kneading librium beads to Our Lady of Fame.

Like hers, my womb breeds only words—
one son, a dreidel, twirling, mute,

who topples into Hebrew shapes
I’m dumb to, cast aside.

Baptist-furred Hildegarde pulls me up.
Toss back my head,
its waterdiamond crown at last

:to blast, a rocket, grace-fuelled
and thin, to that starry roof
and settle there, the biggest.
I could do that now, and
sit on God’s knee, and ask
for it all.

Yellow stars, millions,
heaven-stitched, make way—
I do not know you.
Not my colour anyway I
won’t be caught dead.