We stood on the bridge and
watched him wade into the river
from the opposite bank
camera held above his head
toward a loose cluster of people,
some waist-deep in the water
near the pastor and the child.
Baptisms like this used to happen here
nearly every Sunday in summer,
my mother-in-law said.
This was his favorite way to take photos–
camera in one hand above his head,
like the pastor holding up one hand
to the blue sky above an arch of trees.
These he would edit in black and white
for Monday’s paper:
the sleeve of the pastor’s white robe a water-heavy triangle,
the child holding her nose,
people on the shore a blur in the background.
From the bridge,
we couldn’t hear the shutter
or the pastor’s words,
only some splashing when
the girl rose again
and then a spatter of applause from the congregants.
We clapped, too, and
wiping her eyes,
my mother-in-law nodded toward the photographer,
who now was shaking folks’ hands,
and said, You know, I wanted him to grow up
going to church, but…I think
he turned out all right.