Morton - Conversation

Conversation with Water

We come to you gently enough,
our clever mathematicians
sizing up
the circumference of a baby’s head,
the depth of a keel,
the heft of a truck –
with only six inches, we can lift steel
like a barbell.

We don’t like Styrofoam or plastic bottles;
we have no taste for wood.

But humans intrigue us –
finless, gill-less,
taunting our power in submarines,
casting chemicals into our great open mouths.

Yes, we are angry,
fists of current holding your ankles
like jealous mermaids;

hissing in waterspouts;
open-handed slaps of waves
against your boat.

But in rain, we are terrified –
abandoned, separated,
rushing, taking everything with us
in our panic down to sea level;
we must always find our own.

Draw a bucket up from the river –
it’s all about the escape, the spill,

but captured in a cup, we’re calm,
knowing the human is 60% water;
holding the light till we are swallowed.

But enter you humans –
you curious, unpredictable, fitful creatures
who try to tame us
with chlorine and cement.

We know all your secrets.
Each word you’ve uttered is still held
in our liquid space;

your screams never stop vibrating,
and make the minnows nervous.

When you step in the ocean,
we come licking, calculating, watching.

You may have your way with us
up to your chin,
but we wield all the power
in that one tiny inch
above your nose.

by Karla K. Morton

Featured on Texas Poets Podcast, October, 2014