three blessings for my girl

isabelle baptism

she steps down into the font
of (very! I am later told) warm water,
and is buried, and raised again; then
husband confirms baptized daughter.

“The world that you live in is a beautiful one.
It is also dangerous, and slippery.”

her first world was that, as well.
but she, a somnolent fish, floating in bliss
and mostly unaware of the world,
never perceived danger, couldn’t know this.

“So we bless you now with gifts that will
enable you to pass through it unharmed.”

she’s encircled, entirely, by men.
“we bless you now with gifts”—all I can see
is their legs like some forest of kelp, and the silver
flash of her sandals; anyway, the gifts are three.

“We bless you first with the gift of vision,
that you will know at all times who you are.”

the journey of a lifetime winds through unlit
pools, reflecting darkly. but “when messengers come
from your Mother and from your Father, you
will recognize them” and know whom they are from.

We bless you also with the gift of power. You will not
succumb to lies, slander and false claims of authority.”

yes, this. if I know one thing, it is that the tide
of lying tongues will sometime turn and drag her down
to where she thinks all hope is gone. it isn’t true.
she has the gift of power, and she will not drown.

“We bless you, finally, with the gift of feeling love—
you will have the capacity to love, and be loved.”

there is a well inside my girl filled so inexhaustibly
with love that she will always be awash, replete.
she will breathe love in and breathe love out.
love is her third gift (plus a bonus one: “quick feet”!)

“Remember that Mother and Father in Heaven
are watching you, loving you, and waiting for you.”

we watch and love her too, “we” her father
on earth, and “we” her earthly mother
who made her, and caused her to be
born into one life, and then into another.



Emily HB is a hausfrau living in Utah with delusions of grandeur & survival, a writer of books, a hoper of all things and a believer in several of them.

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10 Responses

  1. Heather says:

    Gorgeous and moving!

  2. Cruelest Month says:

    Beautiful! The gift of feeling love is the best.

  3. Diane says:

    This is a beautiful poem. Congratulations to you and to your lovely girl.

  4. Mark Kotzin says:


  5. Susan Clawson says:

    Emily…I love you and your moving words.

  6. Violadiva says:

    It’s beautiful. I love the feeling of collaboration in the blessing words; like they came from earthly mother and father, and heavenly mother and father. Such a joint effort in raising these souls, isn’t it!

  7. Deirdre Michael says:

    Oh Em, this is so moving, loving and beautiful!

  8. Ziff says:

    I really like this, Emily. Thanks for sharing it!

  9. Carrie says:

    Oh my goodness! My first child, a daughter is scheduled to be baptized next week. I am terrified. I want her to be baptized but I don’t think she has any clue what she is getting into. I wish there were a ceremony or something ANYTHING that would include gifts from WOMEN. Ya know? Everything we get is from a man with the priesthood. Have women nothing to give that is extraordinary enough to warrant a special act?

    • EmilyHB says:

      Dear Carrie, no eight-year-old has a clue, which is why I *steadfastly* avoid congratulating such a young person on the “decision they’ve made” to be baptized. For goodness’ sake. For my girl, being baptized was something that made her membership in the church official (in her own mind). I’m satisfied with that. And I totally hear you when you wonder at our small part in it all. For my first two children, I played the piano at their baptisms, and that was it; for this third child, I decided to opt out of that. But I did help her change out of her wet clothes into dry ones.

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