John the Baptist


This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by Jenna Funkhouser.                                                                                                              

John the Baptist

My life was rehearsal.
From childhood I knew the part:
that final baton passed
from generations of tragic
prophetics, their sharp scythe
already tingling in my hand.

Always, rising just before
the Sun; I was the moon
a thing in unseen fire
transposing the words still hidden
beneath the shadow of earth.

Yet I had not prepared enough
for how this kingdom of air
would be fully eclipsed by His coming.
Could anyone have prophesied
such a startling Word as He was?

One blurry moment when the waters part
thunder speaks, a bolt of radiant dove
splits open my horizons
and I am undone
dripping with the baptism
of my poor attempts at imagination
— just how wide your feathers reach over us
just how far
you will submerge yourself in our skin.

Now I know:
when the heavens and the waters
both parted by your Word
we should have been the ones
who sprouted forth in praise we should have recognized
the death of all our feeble words
and buried them in joy.

Originally appeared in a self-published collection, Pilgrims I Have Been


Jenna Funkhouser is a multi-genre writer with published work in faith-based publications such as Voices of Justice as well as on her website, Downwind of Grace. Her first collection of poetry, Pilgrims I Have Been, was published October 2020. She sees her role as a poet as tracing the quiet workings of grace and is especially influenced by sacramental imagery and thought.

Print this entry

About the Author

Jeffrey Essmann, ICL Poetry Curator To submit poetry to be considered for the Catholic Poetry Room, visit our submission guidelines page.


Jeffrey Essmann is Poetry Editor for IntegratedCatholicLife.org and always searching for the best Catholic poetry from today's poets as well as those of the past.

Jeffrey is an essayist and poet living in New York. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, among them America Magazine, Dappled Things, the St. Austin Review and The Road Not Taken. He is a Benedictine oblate of Mt. Saviour Monastery.

Author Archive Page