July: Water

Inspired, as I am every year, by open swim season, I began collecting more water poems in June and throughout July.

Water, a collection


What wd it be to be water, one body of water
(what water is is another mystery) (We are
water divided.) It wd be a self without walls,
with surface tension, specific gravity a local
exchange between bedrock and cloud of falling and rising,
rising to fall, falling to rise.
(from Springing/ Marie Ponsot)


A fly wounds the water but the wound   
soon heals.
(from The Pond at Dusk/ JANE KENYON)


We are creatures of constant awe,
curious at beauty, at leaf and blossom,
at grief and pleasure, sun and shadow.

And it is not darkness that unites us,
not the cold distance of space, but
the offering of water, each drop of rain,

each rivulet, each pulse, each vein.
(from In Praise of Mystery/ Ada Limón)


What I love about water is that it spends its whole time falling. It’s always, apparently, trying to find the lowest place possible, and when it finds the lowest place possible, it lies there wide awake. 
(from remarks before reading “A Short Story of Falling” / Alice Oswald)


All water understands. 

But you, you stand on the shore
of blue Lake Kieve in the evening
and listen, grieving
as something stirs and turns within you.

Not knowing why you linger in the dark.
Not able even to guess
from what you are excluded
(from The Social Life of Water/ Tony Hoaglund)


Squatting softly in the cool, tea-colored water, 
hearing my own breath move in and out,

leaning close to see the tattered, soft-edged
purses of the flowers,
with their downward hanging cones and coppery antennae.

—This is more tenderness than I had reason to expect
from this rude life in which I built

a wall around myself, in which I couldn’t manage to repair
my cracked-up little heart.
(from Crossing Water/ Tony Hoaglund)


may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea
(from maggie and millie and molly and may / e.e. cummings)


They began to laugh and from their meaty backs
A million crackling things
Burst into flight, which was either water
Or the hour itself ascending.
(from Evaporations/ Alice Oswald)


I’m hungry
& wonder, has everything important happened
& what is more important than this,
like a secret adventure, like an affair I’m having
with everyone I see, their soft or washboard bellies,
their flat or rounded butts, their rippling hair
or shiny domes, their fragile ankles,
their beautiful bones, all our atoms swimming, swimming
& making us visible & I shove off the wall,
reaching my arms out, embracing the whole
magic show, with ten more laps to go.
(from Romance/ Susan Browne)


Cloud talks to lake; mist
speaks quietly to creek.

Lake says something back to cloud,
and cloud listens.
No water is lonely water.
(from from The Social Life of Water/ Tony Hoaglund)


I think the sea is a useless teacher, pitching and falling
no matter the weather, when our lives are rather lakes

unlocking in a constant and bewildering spring.
(from From Nowhere/ Marie Howe)


Spirits of lake, river
and woodland pond preside
mildly in water never

troubled by wind or tide;
and the quiet suburban pool
is only for the fearful —

no wind-wave energies
where no sea briar grips
and no freak breaker with
the violence of the ages
comes foaming at the mouth
to drown you in its depths.
(from A Swim in Co. Wicklow/ Derek Mahon


we found a little unknown grotto
where no people were and we
entered it completely
and let our bodies lose all
their loneliness.

All of the fishes in us
had escaped for a minute.
The real fish did not mind.
We had not disturbed their personal life.
We calmly trailed over them

and under them, shedding
air bubbles, little white

balloons that drifted up
into the sun by the boat
where the Italian boatman slept
with his hat over his face.


It is time now, I said
for the deepening and quieting
of the spirit
among the flux of happenings.


I went down in the afternoon
to the sea
which held me, until grew easy.


The following afternoon, under a blue sky fringed white with distant clouds on the horizon, four of us swam in 360 feet of turquoise water in a sheer-sided quarry on Belnahua. The island encricled a huge natural swimming pool, raised above sea level, whose waters were so utterly transparent that when we swam, we saw our shadows far down, swimming ahead of us along the bottom. All around, only yards away, was the deeper blue of the open sea, and the Hebrides: Fladda, Scarba, Jura, Lunga, the Garvellachs (the ‘Islands of the sea’, St. Coumba’s favourite place), Luing, Mull and Colonsay. The light and the skies kept changing all afternoon: from bright blue with distant dazzling clouds to deepening red and gold. Diving from the rocks into the immensely deep, clear, brackish water, intensified the giddy feeling of aquatic flying. 

Waterlog / Roger Deakin (237)

I memorized a few water poems, too:

  1. Summer Studies/ Tony Hoagland
  2. A Short Story of Falling/ ALICE OSWALD
  3. The Social Life of Water/ Tony Hoaglund
  4. II from Evaporations/ Alice Oswald
  5. first half of The Nude Swim/ Anne Sexton
  6. Swimming, One Day in August/ Mary Oliver

Lakes I Swam in: Lake Nokomis, Cedar Lake, Lake Superior
Most number of loops at once: 5
Total number of loops: 48.75