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

Friday, September 2, 2016

boiling water


A serious moment for the water is
when it boils
And though one usually regards it
merely as a convenience

To have the boiling water
available for bath or table
Occasionally there is someone
around who understands

The importance of this moment
for the water—maybe a saint,
Maybe a poet, maybe a crazy
man, or just someone
temporarily disturbed

With his mind "floating"in a
sense, away from his deepest
Personal concerns to more
"unreal" things...
A serious moment for the island
is when its trees
Begin to give it shade, and
another is when the ocean
Big heavy things against its side.

One walks around and looks at
the island
But not really at it, at what is on
it, and one thinks,

It must be serious, even, to be this
island, at all, here.
Since it is lying here exposed to
the whole sea. All its

Moments might be serious. It is
serious, in such windy weather,
to be a sail
Or an open window, or a feather
flying in the street...

Seriousness, how often I have
thought of seriousness
And how little I have understood
it, except this: serious is urgent

And it has to do with change. You
say to the water,
It's not necessary to boil now,
and you turn it off. It stops

Fidgeting. And starts to cool. You
put your hand in it
And say, The water isn't serious
any more. It has the potential,

However—that urgency to give
off bubbles, to
Change itself to steam. And the

When it becomes part of a
hurricane, blowing up the
And the sand dunes can't keep it 

Fainting is one sign of
seriousness, crying is another.
Shuddering all over is another

A serious moment for the
telephone is when it rings.
And a person answers, it is
Angelica, or is it you.

A serious moment for the fly is
when its wings
Are moving, and a serious
moment for the duck
Is when it swims, when it first
touches water, then spreads
Its smile upon the water...

A serious moment for the match
is when it burst into flame...
Serious for me that I met you, and
serious for you
That you met me, and that we do
not know

If we will ever be close to anyone
again. Serious the recognition
of the probability
That we will, although time
stretches terribly in

Kenneth Koch


note to self


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Five things you didn't know about water


The surface tension in a drop of water is enough to hold a world in,
if the world is small enough, 
A cubic meter of salt water contains seventy billion tears and tears
are what you are made of -- salt and water and pain and relief 

The distance between you and me can be measured in drowned
fishermen, ships lost at sea, shipboard romances, and tidal waves 

When you sweat, your frustration comes out in rivulets, meaning
you have many avenues for relieving your stress: heat and hard work
are not your only choices, but they do the job if you let them 
I brought you this glass of water because I don't have any comfort
to give you so I comfort myself with this wet gift

–Serene Vannoy


Saturday, July 23, 2016

from Ideas of Space


My mathematics is helpless against the sea.

Norman Lock

 more here


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

ours is

Island of Lost Souls, 1932


All passes and all remains,
and ours is to pass by,
to pass by making roads,
roads over the sea.

–Antonio Machado


Monday, July 18, 2016

The Peace of Wild Things



When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

–Wendell Berry


Sunday, July 17, 2016



"So lasting they are, the rivers!” Only think. Sources somewhere in the mountains pulsate and springs seep from a rock, join in a stream, in the current of a river, and the river flows through centuries, millennia. Tribes, nations pass, and the river is still there, and yet it is not, for water does not stay the same, only the place and the name persist, as a metaphor for a permanent form and changing matter. The same rivers flowed in Europe when none of today’s countries existed and no languages known to us were spoken. It is in the names of rivers that traces of lost tribes survive. They lived, though, so long ago that nothing is certain and scholars make guesses which to other scholars seem unfounded. It is not even known how many of these names come from before the Indo-European invasion, which is estimated to have taken place two thousand to three thousand years B. C. Our civilization poisoned river waters, and their contamination acquires a powerful emotional meaning. As the course of a river is a symbol of time, we are inclined to think of a poisoned time. And yet the sources continue to gush and we believe time will be purified one day. I am a worshipper of flowing and would like to entrust my sins to the waters, let them be carried to the sea. 

—Czeslaw Milosz
Robert Hass version