Summer of DIY Sacraments

Madeleine Wattenbarger


Go down to Brighton Beach and        slough this off
Boardwalk borscht    Slick-skinned families with leather

hides    and I    anoint myself with sun        oil
Feet meet seafoam    Kick shame around

This a lonely    kelp-laced baptism
Immersion partial as faith    Instead of doves, seagulls

Painted mouths, meet        body and blood

I mark the goblet with lips
too red        for the priest to wipe clean

I thought that was kind of the point:
swish of a towel        between each sweaty congregant,
atonement    for my dried-blood maw

Crude rite    and aftermath

A week away from water, my body still molts
shore’s residue        Flaking flesh    Dandruff sand

I shudder off the earth, still
shed minerals        still sputter    spit salt
To dust        again


Madeleine Wattenbarger is neither a nun, nor a barber, nor a college graduate, yet.