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Archive for the ‘Water’ Category

Picnic at the Big Lady, Quabbin Reservoir

June 29, 2008 3 comments

The Quabbin rises as if bound to speak:
the four lost towns, Dana, Enfield,
Greenwich, and Prescott murmuring
of all that was, before the emptied
graves and cellar holes took on
the impersonal and public face of history.
Where now the bass patrol and deer
nose out the fattest berries, old rumors
and a persistent watching from behind.

Were the windows open when water
swept those barns and fields? Perhaps
a table set for tea and cake spun slowly
to the ceiling, flowers spilling
from their vase, family photographs
undeveloping to slicks of sepia
within the darkening, generic pool.

I can still see the steeple
dimpling the surface. Whole towns
caught, like a breath, beneath its
phantom shadow, as in a small
glass dome where no snow falls.

by Robbi Nester

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Shuckswitch Road

June 28, 2008 6 comments

The summer I turned six,
The Mississippi
Flooded our farm,
Following us to the second
Story. The third night
We got out by boat,
Oaring off in a slant

Of rain, leaving the car,
The burley crop, the chickens,
The family Bible,
And the house like a girl
Waist-high in water,
White skirts wavering
On its surface.

The neighbors on King’s Hill
Had coffee and quilts, holding
Them out like hands. Inside,
There was a fire, feather
Pillows; the cat had her kittens.
Their mewling soprano
Sang me to sleep. And later,

In fever, I dreamed
The dream I still have
When it rains: a country
Of sand, drought; camels;
Children, the tender swelling
Of their bones; small streams
Struggling into current.

by Pamela Johnson Parker

Read by Beth Adams — Download the MP3

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New Forest Peat Bog

June 27, 2008 2 comments
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(untitled)

June 27, 2008 1 comment

Water
becomes the shape of its vessel
bowled or curling round rocks.
What’s seen softens
as it slides down window panes.
It fogs a field with beaded shawls turning
grass blades into bawdy surprises,
bursts forth around a turn in the road
as a lake, a vast plain sparkling
splashing over since childhood.

by Wanda McCollar

Read by Beth Adams — Download the MP3

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Rain Dancers

June 26, 2008 2 comments

Nothing in the taps but a choke of air,
cracks opening in our skin,
the pond shrunk to a dull bull’s-eye
in a basin of mud, grass
shrivelled to bones and string.

In the night,
thrumming on slate, pooling in gaps,
hissing in gutters, slapping on stone,
whooshing down drains,
at last it comes.

As if a master-switch were thrown
the lights go on,
heads bob at panes like dark balloons,

then people flood into the streets
to splash and stamp and roll
in wet.

On the pavements
piles of night-clothes

rise

like river banks.

by Gill McEvoy

Read by Dave Bonta — Download the MP3

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Sippo Lake

June 26, 2008 1 comment

No larger than a tiddly wink
it would leave only a mist,
land empty in a small cup.
Still, it claims our attention.
One winter a neighbor boy drowned
under the shrunken flat white disk;
often summers when nightfall
renders the sky all colors,
mirrors two worlds from one,
sun running over
I can still hear his mother say
she lives by that light.

by Diane Kendig

Read by Beth Adams — Download the MP3

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River Puddle

June 25, 2008 Comments off
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Swimming Lesson

June 25, 2008 2 comments

The pond stretches
into a Great Lake,
the safe area marked

by bright red floats
strung on yellow rope.
He wades until the water

reaches his waist,
stretches as the teacher
instructs, arms straight

past his head,
straight back,
face in the water.

Here his skin from head
to toe meets the world
and there is water

at the surface, water beneath
the surface, water
underwater going on

forever. He could sink
all the way to China,
not have to dig after all.

If he drowns he rises back
to the light. Everyone
applauds his dead man’s float.

by Michael Milligan

Read by Dave Bonta — Download the MP3

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Deep Subject

June 24, 2008 2 comments

The boy has learned to fish without catching, an evolution from catch and release. The technique involves reeling the lure back to himself furiously after the cast, faster than the fish can swim. He explains that this way he can see them jump and chase, but doesn’t have to face the daunting task of releasing them from the barbed hook.

While he casts and reels, I tell my brother-in-law about my extra well. I am still new to this property. I know where my new well is, out behind the house, with its clean white stem protruding from the ground. But there is another well, west of the garage, covered with planks. A month ago a friend and I pried a board up and with the aid of a flashlight peered into the circular brick structure reaching down into the dark. The flashlight beam reflected back up to us from the water’s surface.

My brother-in-law was raised here, born into a family that has owned the land nearby for over a century. He tells me this was the old well, probably hand dug during the early part of the twentieth century and abandoned when it ran dry or went bad. It poses a problem. Under normal circumstances, fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides would be filtered by twenty to fifty to seventy feet of soil before joining forces with the groundwater, but an open chute offers a straight shot. Old wells should be capped.

Peering down from the top, we can’t see how deep this tunnel reaches. The water’s surface, maybe fifteen feet below us, reflects the surrounding brick walls. At his suggestion we get a chain from an old porch swing, and tie it to a brick. I hold the light while he lowers the brick, hand over hand, down the well shaft and into the water. He reaches the end of the chain and the brick has not reached the bottom. We add on a rope, and then a second rope, before it does.

His son comes up from the pond as we put the board back in place. We know what it would mean to fall into a well in this remote valley, where one cannot be seen from the road, a road on which few vehicles travel anyway. Even if you could swim, there would be no place to swim to, with the surface of the water several body lengths below the rim. We warn the boy away from the danger.

My husband says his father told him men in the bottom of wells could see stars in the daytime. My brother-in-law has heard this, too, that the walls of the well block out sunlight sufficiently to make stars visible. It’s a story with a long reach, recorded by Aristotle.

Later, I tell him and his son a poem called “In the Well,” about a boy being lowered down to the water to retrieve a dead dog. It’s dark now, and the whip-poor-wills are calling. The boy and his dad head back over the hill for home. My nephew’s desire is to fish but do no harm, and I am not sure I can bring myself to seal this circle of stone. Maybe after it has been drained, when I can climb down into it, I’ll see something from the bottom that wasn’t visible in the brightness of daylight.

by Kelly Madigan Erlandson

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Crank Bait

June 24, 2008 3 comments

Louisiana drop shot slip knot crawler,
Grandfather’s dirt-bloodied, rock-rough hands —
I birdnest every other cast into tea-dark water,
while back to my back he tackles larger plans:
tri-hook torpedo lures, deep diving silver spoons,
giant skirted spinner baits that churn and spit
across sunrise mirror stillwater, past raucous loon.
Even a scaled-down, taped-up Louisville Slugger fit
to pummel any lunker into cross-eyed submission!
By midday we hardly speak. I bobber for Pumpkinseed
while he bullseyes musky patrolling the sunken reeds.
Terrified yet of tooth and hook, grandeur or ambition,
what difference between what I want and what I wish?
Stop casting for minnows, son. Big lures, big fish!

by Brent Goodman

Read by Dave Bonta — Download the MP3

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