—extension of the hands above the gifts
He is a boy. He is wearing a square-neck altar server surplice. He is bounced. He is bounced like a red ball on pavement in the schoolyard. Balls on a knee. He fetches and carries, rings the altar bell, among other things. He’s a boy. He is bounced before mass. [He is my father. He is not my father. He was my father. Redact.] My father’s best friend carries this cross. Lights this candle. The lap blesses the incense within the boy’s thurible. The boy leaves it to the deacon to care for sacred vessels. The deacon leaves. Alb, cincture, amice, cassock, and surplice slip off in the sacristy. The surplice slips off on the lap in the sacristy, hands extended. The silent shushing, the sacrament. The ritual rite of passage, passing for unspoken tradition. The boy will be a boy for much longer. The boy will be a boy forever. Forever serving the moments of the lap that served the sacrament at the altar to his brothers, his father, his mother. The boy will kneel and say penance in coded whispers for bouncing on the lap as if the ball itself were guilty of being bounced.
Amy Baskin’s work is currently featured in Stone Gathering, Midwest Quarterly, and is forthcoming in Pirene’s Fountain. She is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, an Oregon Literary Arts Fellow, and an Oregon Poetry Association prize winner. When not writing, she matches international students at Lewis & Clark College with local residents to help them feel welcome and at home during their time in Oregon.