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Baptize (verb)

By Kirsten Reneau

  1. To administer a baptism

Ex: She baptizes herself during the summer, after she is left behind by a man she believed to be a

kind of small god. She had almost drowned once before and decides to be born anew again in the

water. She moves to a city known for flooding, where no one knows her name. She submerges

herself in the darkest water she can find in order to meet the brightest sky she knew.

2. To purify or spiritually cleanse by purging

Ex: She used to believe she had to deny herself things to be beautiful, and that she had to be

beautiful to find a caring god. If she indulged, she purged. She spent most of her life hating

herself for the space she took up, dreaming of becoming small and therefore, perfect. Her

religion was one of hurt, of guilt, of believing that love could only be found in the desperation of


Ex: She sinks like a stone, swallows as much as her stomach can hold. She makes herself big in

the water, arms spread wide to press the water down and propel herself up. She crawls up to the

tiled side and spits it back into itself.

She goes home drinks the tap water after, eight glasses in a row, trying to make herself

full of what has tried to kill her before. She strips her swimsuit off and stares at her body, it’s

rounded curves and lumps, as soft as the craters of the moon. She becomes sick for three days

after, curled up alone on her bathroom floors.

3. To give a name to

Ex: And God said to Moses and so she said to god, “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE”

Ex: And God said “love thy enemy”

Ex: And god looked into her mirror, after being sick for three days and ugly and fat and smiling,

able to recognize her body and name it; to call it good.


Kirsten Reneau is a writer living in New Orleans. Her work has been featured in The Threepenny Review, Hippocampus Magazine, Alaska Quarterly Review, and others. She's online at

Enjoyed Kirsten's work? Send a tip straight to her Venmo: @Kirsten-123

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