A sign I read, half up a mountain, Where blue is produced, and such things: “Protect your water: no swimming, No dogs, catch and release fishing only” Which sends a snake down my backbone, As I think of drinking scaly fins and bird shat, Like the water in the pond at the retirement home Where my love and I go every Sunday to Feed oats to the ducks. Right now there are babies, And under their dainty feet, which fairy-wing flipper, Dimes sinking in a wishing well--- Are two-foot-long carp, Which slink and writhe like bundles of worms, Sallow orgies hunting for food, Just below the reflections of flowers. Leviathan monsters, to the ducklings: Bloated, senselessly constructed, Fins and spines protruding where Only Picasso would place them; But they never touch the dandelion ducklings So trustingly peeping for oats: Hades forbearing from Persephones. I never think of this when I drink water, Which, though it comes drinkably into my kitchen sink, I pour through a filter and put in the fridge, Because clean isn’t pure enough: I’m a vampire, I think; so dissociated from the life that keeps me alive. I would and never have drunk from a pond; But once, when I was little, like my nephew later, I stuck my head in a rain gutter, after a storm To my mother’s chagrin, and pulling up a muddy face Grinned and knew, more than now, As only children can learn, that water is water. That was before germs, ducks and carp Entered my consciousness as things Which should not be consumed; now I know I have always drunk the things I detest without knowing.
By Emily Jay