I hear the voices of stories lived long ago.
Church bells sound a halting song
from the belfry next to my house.
The priest is teaching the boys the ropes.
In the end he can’t help himself
and gives an impromptu recital
just for the heck of it.
This is how it’s done, this is the sound of pure joy.
I spend time watching the goings on
in the courtyard of the church.
The lives of others.
I see blue and white balloons.
They are baptising a baby boy.
The parents walk slowly in their best clothes,
the father holding the prize,
the mother adjusting and re-adjusting
till it’s all perfect:
a falling shoulder strap, the baby’s hair,
the father’s thoughts.
Two people with huge cameras
are recording the ritual proceedings.
Inside, they will undress the baby,
they will immerse him fully in warm water,
they will anoint him with oil,
cut off a tuft of baby hair,
dress him in wonderful white clothes
to symbolise renewal,
taking photographs all the while.
Some people think the terror and the crying
is cute and funny.
Maybe it is inevitable,
like fate and toothache.
All of us have gone through it,
it’s a shared blueprint
carry to every corner of the earth.