The Correctional Center's First Pool Baptism

by Jennifer Conlon
Their rapist is ready.
He is God’s child this Sunday.
The sheriff says we’re all just
passing through on our way to God.
He fixes a small wading pool 
in a safe parking lot.
Officers watch him emerge
from clothes, 
sliding a red shirt over his head.
Their rapist hums hymns, sings
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus
as he drops his pants and shifts
his genitals in his prison
underwear. What can make me whole
again? He smiles at the sheriff who
says we’re limited. We are passing.
Their rapist is ready
for water. O precious is the flow
that makes me white as snow.
Some say when they dip you under
you go down a dry devil and come up
a wet one. Their rapist is ready.
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
The church took months to plan
how to baptize a rapist: which water,
which pool, which hands to guide him
gently down into the waterworld 
of the old self,
how to raise him anew.
This is all my righteousness,
nothing but the blood of Jesus.
The rapist comes up unsteady on his feet.
The sheriff pats his face with a towel,
hands him a Bible study guide.