In the Name — a poem


photo by Charley

This is day 13 of Days of Unreason.

My paternal grandfather was a lay preacher in northern Minnesota.  I also had a great-uncle on my mother’s side who, after a career as a working cowboy, became a circuit preacher “out west.”  I’ve also known a few pastors.  None of them would (publicly) acknowledge what the voice in this poem says.  They might chuckle while reading it.  That can be forgiven.

“Only the water is safe.” – Jim Harrison

Relax, I’ve done this hundreds of times.

(…in the name of the Father…)

I haven’t lost one yet; not in the water.

An easy motion; I slip

you backwards under the water –

you can hold your nose, or use

a handkerchief.  Lots tense

up.  They discover a phobia

they never knew they suffered.

(…in the name of the Son…)

A few times I’ve just slipped

my leg behind theirs, a sweeping

motion and it’s done!  Just water.

Now, to be clear, this signifies

(…and in the name…)

what has already has happened

in your life.  Once you climb

out of the water, that’s when

it gets treacherous.  We say

the Church, the Body of Christ,

the Flock.  The truth is we open

the doors and call every kind

of creature into the mix.

(…of the Holy Spirit.)

Like millions before you,

and millions around you,

you just grit your teeth

and hold on for dear life.

But relax for now.

You’re safe in the water.


A little over a year ago, I joined Jillys2016 in a challenge called “28 Days of Unreason.”  She culled quotes from the poems of Jim Harrison in a book called Songs of Unreason.  We used the quotes as prompts; diving boards suspended over the abyss of poetry.  Jill is revisiting unreason, and I am skipping gleefully along.  Come and join the fun!

19 thoughts on “In the Name — a poem

  1. I would disagree with Harrison about the safety of water. He perhaps would agree regarding drowning but might counter that water is what keeps life going on Earth. I stay on the shallow end of the pool or near the shore and avoid boats. The fear of water may be what makes that immersion ritual of baptism powerful. There is a symbolic death and a rising from it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. OK. I loved that. Especially where you took it at the end, it’s when you come out that it gets treacherous. The easy talking build up, and then the reality. Like millions before and millions to come, and bringing in all of the life around us. Way to go.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I truly enjoy where you went with this prompt; the irony of the phobia about going backwards in the water and the immersion into a sometimes scary community. Indeed, there are times when it might be best to just keep swimming. Amen!

    Liked by 1 person

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