John the baptizer

by Ken Sehested


Such a tame name for a man born to inhabit
           the wild side of heaven’s incursion into
           earth’s contempt.

You startle children with your leather-girdled,
     camel-haired attire, hot breath calling the
     devout into Jordan’s penitential wake.

Witness to the Spirit-dove’s descent,
     confirming Elizabeth’s praise and Mary’s assent.

What brings you and
     your honey-smeared beard
           into such a barren land?

Wade in the water. Don’t mind the mud.
     A certain drowning is required as Breath
           from above is delivered on the wings of a dove.

The baptizer’s bargain is this:
     There’s no getting right with God.
           There’s only getting soaked.

©Ken Sehested @ Inspired by Mark 1:4-11, adapted the author’s longer poem, “The Baptizer’s Bargain.”