"Those were hard things for me to come by, and I offer them to you for what they may be worth." - Toby Wolff

Monday, August 15, 2011


In this baptism
he worships the water
small mind knowing nothing but want
his want having no need
for he merely steps off the inkling of his desire
and into the fulfillment,
as if acquiescence were the soles of his feet

He unzips his arms
reveals the cavity of his chest
the waters rushing over the breakers of his ribs
infantile ideas carried on the rapids
churning down into his groin where they stir primal interests
submerge, resurface, bob, sink, drown.

The simplicity of it baffles me.
I want, I take.
I need, I enter...
unaware his joy is witnessed, photographed, journaled.
Man. Water. Baptism.
The ancient combination.

Over and over he enters, submerged and reborn.
A child joins him, sensing a kindred age.
A woman next, tentative against the spray
but his fingers stroke her conviction and she believes

It is said a little child shall lead them.
And so it was
a toddler in the body of a man.

(Where I work, there are several homes for the mentally challenged nearby. I spent my lunch hour photographing them playing in the park fountain. He almost had me. I was one towel away from going in.)


  1. a beautiful witnessing.

    you did join them)


  2. You should have joined him, towel be damned.

  3. I was born on my uncle's birthday. April 9.

    My mother was the youngest. Her name is Joy. My uncle was the next-oldest. His name was Eugene. They called him Bub. He had Down's Syndrome, and he died well before I could meet him, though I never really needed to.

    There were seven of them total, and Mom and Bub were the two kids, the young 'uns, no matter Bub's age.

    Mom was born in '42. Bub a few years earlier.

    The kids made fun of him at school and so he pissed on them.

    After the pissing, the teachers told my grandparents to keep him at home.

    Bub used to put his arm around an invisible man and say, This is Jesus. He's my buddy.

    My aunt once whipped a girl for throwing a cigarette down Bub's shirt.

    Bub lives on more than any of the other of my other relatives. He died at 18 of Leukemia, of all the damned things, still a boy though he would have been a boy at any age.

    You hear that? he said to my granddad.

    Hear what?

    The angels. They're calling me home.

    Nobody in my family says Down's. You're liable to get your snot-box busted if you say retard.

    We call them Special, and Lord you should see my mom gush when she sees someone. You should see any of them gush.

    It's like they're seeing a spirit, like they're looking at an angel.

    - Eric

  4. "So put your head in the water, put your feet in the water, put your soul in the water, join me for a swim tonight." Good stuff as always Annie. We must have been thirsty writing about water at the same time.

  5. so glad to see you out again,,:)

  6. Erin - Never lacks for things of interest in the heart of a city, or a forrest.

    Bubba - I know. Woulda made a better story, and a better Annie.

    Eric - I was born April 19. My aunt had Down's (sorry Eric's Momma). I always moved too slowly for her as a kid. She would say...."Move your butt Ann-marie." I can still hear her say it. She died at a ripe old age for "Special" 48. They have a direct path to God that we can only hope to understand. There is nothing in the way. Our minds are too complex for the ease of such wonders. We have to work at comprehension. Thank you so much for sharing. I believe Bub. He had Jesus walkin right there. Buddies. Damn fine if you ask me.

  7. Travis - Travis - Whitman and Water. Seems to be going around. I am so often amazed by the themes that develop throughout the blogs I read. It can't just be coincidence since it happens so often.

    Glenn - A short respite I am sad to say. The week, the month, is shaping up to be busier than ever. Nice to pop in though. I'll try and keep up :)

  8. water, baptism, ritual... an ancient combination. and powerful. i think they way you step out and explain the scene at the end really puts a real flourish to it. next time, you must go in:)

  9. ...a toddler in the body of a man. That is the essence of it. Beautiful.

  10. Thank you. I feel blessed to have read this
    life affirming poem and view the pictures.

  11. Ed - That would be the consensus. And were I more of a free spirit, I suppose I might have. If I didn't have to go back to work looking like adrown rat, I suppose I might have. Seems like the end of many life sentences. I suppose I might have.

    Liza - Thank you. It was a nice lunch, watching such a display.

    Cynthia - That was it on the nose. Life affirming in the most basic of ways. Thank you.

  12. I think there's a special kind of innocence with people like that, an innocence that can be inspiring and profoundly beautiful to witness.

    And whether you joined them physically or not, that man certainly inspired you to join him mentally in that joy. :)

  13. Was so into the words, I almost missed the images in the photos, almost followed them down another path. A wonderful post…

  14. Tracy To be sure. You would have, no? I see it so.

    Anthony - You are perceptive. I thought of posting the words together at the end in one continuous phrase. I doubted myself, as always. I wanted the words and images to merge, but I agree with you. They digress.

  15. This is fantastic, what a great read and I felt each stroke of the water, especially since HE is a woman ;)

  16. Beautiful photos, Annie. I vote with Bubba. You should have jumped on in!!! Love you! xo

  17. I don't think I would have jumped in either but, as you, I would have been this close... Being too self-aware, too serious is a curse. My friend Emily just sent me some pictures of herself where she's dancing around in her parents kitchen and crawling on all fours, with her tongue hanging out, pretending to be a dog; you know, just goofing off, being silly. I admire her for being so free and generous with her silliness. I admire everyone who is so blessed. Of course the origin of silly is gesaelig, which means blessed, so there you are.

  18. Lorraine - He really was a he. Just well endowed. Glad you liked it.

    Marion - I know I know I know.... Next time.

    Andreas - I AM too serious. Always have been. Less so now that I'm OLD. Who cares anymore right? Start now Andreas. Be silly. Serious is hard work.

  19. I read this three times. Once for getting wet. Once for deeper comprehension. Once for the sheer pleasure of how your liquid lines flow.

    Thirty years ago, I lived in a strange part of Little Rock. I'd go to the laundromat, which was across the street for an old three-story house. Converted to a home for the mentally ill. I would quietly observe them coming and going. The simplicity left me shaken. Those in the "real" world of cynical greed and manipulation seemed, by contrast, the ones with something wrong about them.

    And yet...I was always left with a deep sadness, sensing that these people had no family. Just one another.

  20. Tim - A triple read? Thank you. Yes, yes, yes...it's that simplicity I am talking about, how I long for such ease of movement, speech, thought...without the confliction of adult directional pulls. I notice quite often how the blind move...how their bodies simply move, with no thought to how it looks, or how it displays...whether their pants create a muffin top, or their shorts show cellulite. I long for that kind of ease. The ease of feeling unwatched.

  21. i'm not sure what it is...but i have such a LOVE for kids and adults with down's syndrome. the specials. i don't have any family members or friends i've known, it's just something i've felt my whole life. like there is something so pure and good in those bodies and hearts that it almost hurts to bear witness. to really see it. that i'm lucky to get a smile, a hug. and that smile in the water fountain? *sigh* my heart just opened up a bit more.

  22. Krista - You and me both! It's a soul connection (feeling all private right now, like who's gonna come back to this post...not even you I'd imagine) for someone who feels so akin to such a primal infantood, yet such an ancient soul. How do I live like this...so connected to two such opposite ends? Sincerely, I do not know how. I know longer know, how to live my life. It's scary. I hate my forties.

    Heavenly - Well....not sure how to respond. But that is the response I often give my own mind. Wow. WTF? WTH? What? WHAT? WOW. (you've lost your friggin' marbles. One card short of deck. One fry short of a Happy Meal.) *sigh*

  23. Oh my heart! Exquiste ... I remember Lillian: a child's simplicity, an angel's love.

    Thank you for this, Annie.

    Blessings ....


Thank you for listening.