Sunday, April 19, 2009


This isn't a new poem, but one I posted a few months ago on MySpace, back when I used to go there.


You can’t hold on to water.
It’s like your first kiss,
The perfect temperature of a cup of coffee—
just after it burns, just before it’s tepid—
the honey milk smell of a baby’s neck,
that last 10 pounds you lost again—and regained,
purple hyacinths pushing out of the snow,
a ripe, red garden tomato.

All that is important drips, flows or floods from your life
Like water escapes your cupped hands
No matter how thirsty you are
No matter how much you need it
No matter how tightly you press your palms and fingers together
And suck up what you can before it’s gone.

Remember contests in the bathtub with your little brother and sister
To see who could hold a handful of water the longest?
Over and over you tried
While soap scum cooled on lukewarm water,
Tiny waves lapped at the dirty tub ring
And your brother’s lips turned blue.
Just like yours, their lives have slipped through their fingers—
Like your grandmothers’ lives and your children’s lives
And the love you thought would last a lifetime.

But water that slips away always comes back—
As the tears you shed at your mother’s funeral
Or the urine that determines your daughter-in-law’s pregnancy test
Or the ice cube in the scotch your husband drinks
The day he knows the biopsy is positive
Or the moon-driven oceans that ebb and flow with the life of a blue planet.
You are as likely to hold on to love as you are to drink an ocean,
Hold it in your full round belly and belch fishy burps...
Eventually you’ll have to pee.


  1. I keep forgetting you have a blog. Now I'm one of your followers.
    I'm liking your water poem a lot!

  2. If your husband really does have cancer, I am very sorry, and I hope his treatment is going well.

    "No matter how much you need it"

    Yes. No matter how bad things get, there is no guarantee that they won't get worse, or that you will be made better by your suffering.

    Poe wrote about sand flowing through his fingers" I hold within my hands, grains of the golden sand. Few there be, yet how they creep, through my fingers to the deep. While I weep. While I weep. Oh, God, could I not clasp then with a tighter grasp? Oh, God, could I not save, just one from the pitiless wave....?

    I quote from long ago memory, so no doubt there are mistakes.

  3. I'm glad you're here, Z, where you're already famous. ;-)

    Hi, Snowbrush. My husband really did have cancer. He's OK now and he's my ex. That's why I take care of the pond now.

    Love the Poe quote. We spent a lot of time with Mr. Poe back when my kids were younger and we were homeschooling.

    I know people like to feel better by telling themselves and others that everything will work out for the best. It's crap though. Sometimes things don't work out so well; sometimes things get so bad, you don't know how you'll survive and you wonder why you'd want to. And I don't think it necessarily makes you stronger. You just know more about what you can take. There's some wisdom to be found in that, I suppose.