Her brothers passed me at the dinner table like salt. Her sisters took me out of each
other’s arms with fingers spread to protect my neck. Aunt Margie and Grammie Lorraine
prayed three rosaries for me, on the black rosary from Ireland that hung beside the
telephone in the hall. The same rosary that was draped on my uncle’s hands when he laid
dead in the front room. For luck. Aunt Christie baptized me in the kitchen sink when my
fever spiked. She anointed my head with canola oil, washed away my sins at the tap.
Father O’Neil wouldn’t baptize a bastard baby and to make it worse I was black haired
with a rosebud mouth, half-circle fingernails like ice shavings. A devil in the cradle.
This poem appears in our Fall 2013 issue (Vol. 60.1).