Poem: Baptismal

[Image Description: A Roman statue of a woman with her arms folded across her chest] Source.
Poem by Teo Eve


soft sight, skin, your arms a cradle
i recede in years, shedding callous and scar
the bags beneath my I lifted by another’s
          silent lullabies flow like softened honey in
melting tea, the kettle’s whine from beyond the door
a sure sign of love
                              and on this hard day’s
night you’ll make my favourite meal and Freud
will work wonders on how a lover’s like a
            and I, on better days, mother and lover
        tonight, war-worn, I’ll rest, my plastic
armour plates beneath the bed you hold
me and say this is making love, as much or
more than the other, the way we were taught
by lovers who loved us less than love.

upon us, innocence rests as a sleeping dove,
we whisper confessionals at the altar of laboured
love, the rotten wood and sawdust, and tear it down
building it anew from soft stone beneath sacrificial
                                                      X and X

in you, i unwind my manhood, renounce myself
and become at once a man a woman full myself

my secular sins running off my skin like dirtied bathwater

or the pool left behind post-baptism, post-partum

‘Baptismal’ rejects the idea of a rigid gender identity from within a stable relationship, in which both the speaker and the partner fluctuate and take on and trade roles traditionally associated with a single gender. Ultimately, the pair’s love is at the heart of the poem, as the bodies they love through fade into the periphery. Religious imagery occasionally plays a part in the poem, illustrating notions of rebirth and rediscovery, as each partner reclaims themselves, celebrating their new identities they find within each other. 

Teo Eve is a 22-year-old poet and short story writer from Nottingham, UK. Teo's poetry has been published by 404 Ink and the Nottingham Poetry Exchange. Their story 'To Be Seen' will appear in the forthcoming Speak Up: An Anthology of Young Voices anthology after winning the UNESCO City of Literature 'MyVoice' competition.