Baptism in the Dead Sea

By Steve Brammell


The stones on the bottom

were slippery,

the water like oil

against my legs–

this sea where you cannot drown.


A single tourist

floated upright

as if lounging in a chair.


I understood

there would be no preacher

with a hand under my back

and scripture to welcome

me up from the grave.


I dove in head first,

kept my eyes closed as warned,

stayed down with full lungs

but felt a buoyancy

try to expel me

as though some secret

farther down needed guarding.


I broke through the surface,

a split second of sight

to witness what I hoped

would be a sinless world,

then the salt on my face

got into those wandering eyes

and I knew the old God

still reigned

in the lowest place on earth,

blinding me

for the curiosity

that brought me here,

my skin glittering

like Lot’s wife

the rest of the day

as I tried to find

fresh water.



Steve Brammell has lived many places and has toiled at many jobs as varied as carpenter, bus driver, social worker, restaurant manager, sommelier,  gardener, and technical writer, editing manuals for nuclear power plants and pitching news stories to media about medical research. During his years in Birmingham, Alabama, he wrote for Alabama MagazineBusiness Alabama Monthly, and Birmingham Magazine, where he had his own column every month, looking at life in the city through a poet’s eyes. Brammell is a native Hoosier who finally returned home. He lives and writes in Indianapolis where he’s employed in the wine trade. He graduated from Wabash College, recently had a poem published in The RavensPerch Literary Journal and has one that will be published soon in Flying Island. Brammell just completed a manuscript of poems about living in the Deep South and is looking for a publisher.




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