Poem | Sacraments in the Field

A layman can baptize when in extremis
or give the last rites. Here’s how I perform them.
I can’t confess you, consecrate a wafer,
but I can say hello, goodbye in Latin,
and frankly, my boss is the Holy Spirit.
Ego te baptismo I tell the infants,
Apage, Satanas, I tell the parents,
Requiescat in pace, I tell the dying.
Lacking extreme unguent, I use saliva,
crossing a forehead when the priest is tardy.
Of course with kids, there’s lots of time for mayhem
now that the church has done away with limbo,
but with a dying friend, another matter.
Enfold him in your arms, and whisper Latin.

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About the Author

Timothy Murphy’s books include Mortal Stakes and Faint Thunder and Hunter’s Log, both from the Dakota Institute Press.