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Water & Replenishment - A Poet's View

Denise Low

Ogallala Aquifer

As the water table sinks

mid-range rivers falter.

The Arkansas River loses its way

to Wichita. The Smoky Hill

lapses into gravel

and long stretches of silence,

like Heraclitus, muffled,

only fragments remaining

from his distant writings.

Or Sappho—her broken

songs are beds of old lakes,

just the outlines visible

like wheel ruts

of the Oregon Trail,

almost imaginary traces

across grasslands.

These river beds make roads

out of smoke-blue hills.

Cobbles follow and sand.

Far underground

the Ogallala aquifer,

a lost Ice Age sea,

dries into solid stone.

(New and Selected Poems)

Inside the River

Spring rains rushed beyond this spot,

changing sand into petrified waves

and sudden drop-offs

dug back at angles into sift river belly,

the random deep holes of whiskered catfish.

Springtime is stopped here in grainy patterns

interrupted only by a few heron tracks

and framed singularly in the ripples:

fragments of bisque crockery, skeet traps,

whiskey bottles—stories from western counties

all carried into the current,

spun around, broken apart, and suddenly found

years later, miles away, downriver.

(New and Selected Poems)


Nursing my first baby

I drank eight glasses of water,

two quarts each day. He grew.

I felt like a carrier for water,

passing it on through to the child,

and some day his child, too,

will fatten, remarkable

like peaches and muskmelons

leaching juice from bare dirt.

Astronomers tell us star dust

once swirled together,

cooled into rocks and water

and still circulates,

the same matter pulled into stars

and Earth and into our flesh.

So water travels the skies,

stretches into clouds,

and falls, moving ever East,

circling, the same ancient water

caught in the whirlwind

binding us all together—

gravity, or maybe

as we know it, love,

or water drawing together all its kin.

                        (Starwater, reprinted in New and Selected Poems)

© 2017 Denise Low all text. Email for reprint permission kansaspoetry@gmail.com

Low, Denise. New and Selected Poems. Penthe Press, available online.

Low, Denise. Starwater. Cottonwood Review Press.

Music Precious Water from Water Drops. Stephen Gilbert and Paolo Gambino.

Credit Denise Low