“Jesus Is My Flu Shot” by Jackleen Holton

Jackleen Holton


I tried it once, the being saved,
my devout older cousin standing
before me on the steps of the city pool.
She said, you can’t plug your nose,
so I didn’t, and she dunked me, held me
under for a long time because
it has to hurt so He’ll know
you’re ready to receive His grace.
I spoke in garbled tongues, bubbles
rising from me as I tried to catch
her faith, felt the water enter
me like a needle—
the way it does now, the spout
of the neti pot pressed to one nostril,
a torrent of salt water
blazing out the other one
as I remember the straight line
her mouth made, so intent
was she on this ministry
that it had to be love,
the sun behind her aflame
in the wavering sky above me.

from Rattle #61, Fall 2018


Jackleen Holton: “I write poems to gather my thoughts and make sense of things, though it rarely works that elegantly. More often than not, it comes from something like being down with the flu, and hearing from an evangelical leader that my condition would have been entirely preventable had I possessed the right brand of faith, which gets me thinking about faith, all the ways I’ve tried to catch it, and how those attempts have always felt a little bit like trying to breathe underwater.” (web)

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