Water is H2O, hydrogen two parts, oxygen one, but there is also a third thing that makes water,
and nobody knows what that is.

–D. H. Lawrence

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Book of Water




I bought a book of water,
its pages bound in weed,
its spine of muscled silver,

its words too quick to read.

I slept with it beside me

laid open somewhere still

but when I woke the story

had reached the windowsills.

Paragraphs like rivers
the rain had caused to rise
were bursting from the covers,
dragging shattered trees.

I tasted then the power
of what I’d thought confined.
I smelled the roaring sewer
beneath the storyline.

I waded then and prayed,
I prayed the book would shut,
for I’d misunderstood
the shape of water’s plot.

It’s shapelessness meant ruin
was everywhere at once –
fields and fireplaces drowned,
living rooms and highroads
and bridges washed away,
muddied skirting boards
and cars carried away,
 greenhouses and green cords
of wood, good shoes, TVs,
scrapbooks and wedding photos,
paper cranes, libraries
and landfills swept away
all in the one long water
that swirled around my waist,
through which life’s narrative
was jumbled as it raced.

Reader, I thought I knew
that ours was the order,
the patterns and the borders,
with which the truth’s subdued
to something safe and good.

How wrong I was, and you
who stand now where I stood
have cleaning up to do.

I bought a book of water
I wouldn’t buy again,
its one page read disorder
in letters tall as rain.

~ Jacob Polley



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