Self-Portrait As Ritual

Regina DiPerna

When we were children,
my brother used to offer his soul to Satan
to win at board games. He won

because he rigged each board, stacked
each deck, only pleaded to make us think
he was desperate. We were baptized

late, in a kiddie pool my father
had spray-painted gold and silver.
We daydreamed through the sacraments.

We played Bloody Mary
and she never came.
We built forts, we took them down

and they went back to being
armchairs and sheets, encyclopedias
once again a sum of ideas, not blunt weight

holding together a makeshift house.
At twenty-seven I visited a sanctuary,
shoveled sacred dirt into a bag

with a plastic spade. A friend told me
he once saw the priests at dawn
gathering damp soil from the river,

blessing it; I know now, it shimmers
because there is mica in the riverbed,
because elements striate under water’s

sliding mirrors whether we see them
or not. As a child, I took a sip of gin
to see if I was an alcoholic. I wasn’t,

but I liked how clear it was, like being woken
with a bite on the cheek, how even
the juniper could be tasted and named. 

 This is one of two Fall 2015 GC Online Exclusive poems by Regina DiPerna. Click to read "Crystallomancy."