Water won’t save us. Volcanoes showed me that truth. Won’t save us. Has no inclination even to notice us. The ring of fire. Fire. On the ocean floor. Won’t save us. And not only from fire. From herself. We are lucky she chooses most often to ignore us. She has that choice, makes it in our favor. Not out of love, or compassion, or care, but disinterest. When she is ready to rise, she rises, and our presence means all of nothing. In the story, the wave becomes vengeful and cruel. I believed that. I have felt the violent, steady shove of waves against my head and chest, driving me backward and down into sand and stones, down under her weight. Have felt, too, her jagged shards, hail lacerating my scalp, my cheek. In the story, the man bests the wave, exerts control. But that was a lie. Water is a higher power, with no need to attend the desires of ones so small and fishless as we. Une belle dame sans souci. Una mujer sin verguenza. She has no time for us. She contains life too big for land, too wild and unknowable. Suited only for vastness, for unfathomable depths. She will not be tamed or owned. By the moon, her mutable sister, but certainly not by men. And the man should have known that. He’d disposed of the wave once, but she was water. She came back. I nourish my healthy fear, my admiration with every sip. 

Random? If you don’t live in my head, yes. I was remembering a science show I watched more than twenty years ago with my sister, a special about volcancoes. I love volcanoes. I’m fascinated by them. But watching that special brought me the still-fascinating but also terrifying discovery of ocean-floor volcanoes. As we talked our way through the documentary, I tried to figure out why I found those volcanoes so scary, and Fox — with her customary sagacity — summed me up so simply: “You’re realizing that water won’t save us.” Then the memory of a brief and frightening encounter with some aggressive waves in Jamaica and a golf-ball-sized hail storm in Brooklyn. And “the story” is Octavio Paz’s too-beautiful and amazing “My Life with the Wave.” Water doesn’t play.

Update: There was some problem with my posts not posting. I’d hit “publish,” and go on about my business while my posts would go … I don’t know where. April 4th showed up on the 6th! The others didn’t show up at all. I seem, now, to have fixed the problem. I’m posting the ones that vanished with their original dates. This one should have appeared on Monday.


Are you writing poems this month? Where can I see them? Let’s share this craziness!

As I did last year, I’ll be following along with the Poem-A-Day challenge at Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides Blog. Today’s prompt is to write a things-not-as-they-appear poem. You can post your daily poems on Brewer’s page. The top poem from each day will be included in an anthology later this year!


One thought on “Libation

  1. That I am reading this on Earth Day seems very apropos. I am minded though of both Genesis – the flood and Revelations – the Second Coming and which of the two elements will be mightier in the end over earth and sky.


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