by Kelly Pelton

Admittedly, I could not hear her as we stood on a riverbank,
I a guest at a gathering of traditionalist church members;
she talked on and on from the water as I shifted my weight,
her words of faith murmurs in my ears, like the dying embers

of a fire that flared briefly this one day of her life in the church
when her voice was heard by the whole congregation, her one chance
to testify to the goodness of God before sisters and brothers.
She was then immersed, then uprighted, to join the subordination dance,

and I thought she'd been milking the opportunity for all it's worth
although I confess this is an unvalidated assumption.
One so inclined could form a different impression,
that women can't be succinct and must dominate with gumption

the dialogue among other things ("This is why God
in His inscrutable wisdom does not let women address
the assembly.") and could miss the significance of her prebaptismal outpouring
as her one allowed attempt to comprehensively bless.