A Novel About a Glass of Water
Yes, I know it’s water.
I am trying to return to some quiet place,
the way birds and bears return.
How could I write a novel about passionate rumblings in the teepees?
Or goldminers who strike up a deal with a nun?
I am no nun,
though I keep ending up
in the correspondence of people who know me
surrounded by words like “domestic” and “please.”
Something else is still possible:
the mind roaring dream-ward, perhaps,
a bowl glazed with green.
As a girl, I kept seamonkeys for company and
voted for Jimmy Carter in my class’s mock election.
Nothing then prepared me for how sack-like a body would get—
the dreg of muscle that could haul its soul from one chair to another.
Let me tell you
a fable instead:
The water was clear and cold and safe to drink; there was plenty for everyone.
The water adored the priest and the priest, likewise.
He would dip his hands in the well and shudder like a sack full of bees.
The water said to the priest, It’s not that things happen at the right time.
They just happen… so you might as well believe they were right.
The priest answered, I have a friend
who believes we ought to put everyone with AIDS
on an island somewhere and let them fight it out.
The priest knew nothing of romance, but everything of love.
Shut your eyes, the water responded, put your mouth next to me.
Mary Crockett Hill
is author of the award-winning book of poems If You Return Home with Food
and co-author of the history A Town by the Name of Salem.
She lives and works in southwestern Virginia.