A Baptism

Brompton Oratory, a hot lunch-time in July,
a baby being received into the Catholic Church
and Catholic upper-crust society:
dressed-up, a group stands round the font.
Otherwise the building’s almost empty, save a
scattering of oddballs dotted round the nave,
the occasional stray tourist fleeing from the sun.

A little girl in blue-and-white-striped dress
escapes the cluster of family and friends.
She patters down the aisle towards the wardrobe-like
confessionals – archaic Wendy-houses –
which lure her to explore their dark insides;
drunk with happiness, she crawls along a pew;
ecstatic – the Oratory one unimagined playground.

Behind her plods the solemn uncle.
Determined not to make a sideshow of himself,
he doesn’t chase – but holds himself on guard
till the moment she stands still. She totters,
absorbing wonder, dizzies herself with space …
He scoops her up, bears her back towards propriety –
the serious expectations of family and Church.


©Virginia Rounding, 1995

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s