Is for, to Hold

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Is for, to Hold

by Bob Hicok
Southern Cultures, Vol. 14, No. 2: Katrina

"The road had disappeared, the field, / the sundial was about to go under, meaning shadows / would have been unable to stay on schedule."

I didn’t tell the water it was a pitchfork.
I believe the water believed it was a trident
on account of the family resemblance.
The road had disappeared, the field,
the sundial was about to go under, meaning shadows
would have been unable to stay on schedule.
When I touched the water with the pitchfork,
it stopped rising, and for a week, an ocean
like this is what an ocean is for, to hold.
A few trees went by and a For Sale sign,
I called the number, how much to buy
this ocean? The pitchfork
had only turned over leaves and banana peels
into compost. I let it sit with us
at the table, fed it bratwurst and jaw breakers.
During the last flood, someone died
down the way, someone is always dying
when living is called for. We are not fish,
goes the saying, anymore. My neighbor
who lost his house, says it’ll be awhile
before he can stare a glass of water in the face.
We are mostly water, mostly rain, people drwon
in themselves. The ocean’s a river again
and back where it sleeps. In the middle,
a refrigerator’s a new island
of cool & white. I wade into the music of caress
and open the door, let water out into the water,
it swims away, everything swims away,
as the river nudges me, follow.

Ed. note: “Is for, to Hold” is from Hurricane Blues: Poems about Katrina and Rita (reviewed in this issue’s “Books”), courtesy of Southern Missouri State University Press and the author.