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Poem March 2024


In christening gown and bonnet,

he is white and stoic as the moon,

unflinching as the sun burns

through yellow puffs of pine

pollen gathered at his crown

while I pour onto his forehead

from a tiny blue Chinese rice cup

holy water blessed

by John Paul II himself

and say, “I baptize you, Julian Joseph,

in the name of the Father, and of the Son,

and of the Holy Spirit.”

Nor does he stir when the monarchs

and swallowtails,

in ecclesiastical vestments,

lift from the purple brushes

of the butterfly bush

and light upon him.

    — Joseph Bathanti

Joseph Bathanti was the North Carolina poet laureate from 2012-2014. He will be inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in October.