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Red Paint

julie e. bloemeke / poem

Baptism Under Persian Ceiling

after the Chihuly Collection, Morean Arts Center

In this body of blown glass, homage

to its once-sand self, a garden of spikes,

disks, the jellyfish of flowers, a turned angel,

hidden, a scallop with ribs. To surface

is to emerge here, under nautilus and crab

claw, the sea of weeds, the sea that sees.

Trumpeted sperm swim beneath ridges

of striped waves, overturned in portals

of color. Anemone and urchin expected,

yet unspined in the bubbles of interambulacral

plate. Ampule of stars, the shore is fixed,

the ocean, for once, this thing we walk under.

Note how we forget our hands, deep

in the dive, how we unsting in the float.

When we emerge—foam swaddled, struck,

maybe we are no longer poison.


Julie E. Bloemeke (she/her) is the 2021 Georgia Author of the Year Finalist for Poetry. Her debut full-length collection Slide to Unlock (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2020) is also a 2021 Book All Georgians Should Read. Co-editor of Let Me Say This: A Dolly Parton Poetry Anthology (Madville Publishing, 2023) and associate editor for South Carolina Review, she is the winner of the 2022 Third Coast Poetry Prize. In 2023, a broadside of her poem, “Glass City,” was commissioned by the Hiltons at Toledo Downtown to be on view as part of the hotel’s permanent collection. Visit her online at


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