Getting one in under the wire for We Write Poems, where they are asking writers to look at ten poems they’ve written, find repeating words/phrases, and write to one that emotionally resonates. I ended up doing a Wordle out of ten random poems, finding the most frequently used ones, several of which made it into the poem: but water seems to be a common theme. I think of myself more as an air person from a zodiacal point of view or whatever, but there is something to be said for the changeable dualities of water. Strong but weak, powerful but diffident, this way but that way. A lot of city images crop up in my work too, so that was the genesis of the poem. (Also, I love the word meander. One of my favorites.) It’s kind of a rambling piece, so I hope it has some slight effect; like water, I don’t expect it to linger.
Once more with the shameless pitching: I’m still looking for submissions to the Refinery if you’d like me to discuss your poem. And I’m 99% sure I’m going to AWP in Boston next weekend; is anyone else? (I’m only on the fence because of cost-effectiveness; I have to miss the first half of the conference. Past attendees like Donna: is it worth it?)
A palmist taps my knuckles, saying like a river:
carrying everything too long. I want to say, but,
doesn’t a river eventually come to the sea—
my five minutes are up. She jangles her head,
summons the next victim, and I escape
into the fierce outdoor light. White city, now
I’m thinking you grip my ankles too hard,
catch on my sleeves. It’s true that I feel heavy:
a body of water is shifting every drop of itself
any moment. When I squeezed my hand
to canyon the lifeline, water began to pool
in the crooks. The palmist sighed her pity.
I cut west on 23rd as the city floods with noise:
half-heard stories swirling round my chest,
cab horns up to my neck. I see the Hudson
lamenting by. And there’s feedback ringing
in my ears; when I reach the brim, I almost
tumble in, that blue-brown ribbon calling its kin
pretending at legs. Water wears weight.
But at least a river changes its shape from time
to time. Palms suddenly deepen, crease left
and right. I’ll believe renewal when I can pour
myself through my hands, stoop knee-deep
in the harbor shedding my weight. Then
I could stand straight. I could fire all my nerves,
be liquid, let cheap advice flash on the waves
like whalespit the moment before it’s lost.