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For Richard

Eleven, eight and four years old,
and you the youngest, still untouched –
still unmarked by the sign of the cross.
We tell you this while we’re alone

in the house (you open to Hell,
without our parents’ protection).
Afraid of where you’ll go when you die,

we elect to bless you ourselves;

crowd around the washing-up bowl,
pray on the face of its water,
feel ourselves transubstantiated.
We transform into celebrants,

your sister and I: a priestess
and a priest saying ‘God’ a lot.
Fingers wetted, brushed above your brow,
we paint the key to Paradise.