what’s water?

For David Foster Wallace

This guy got lost in the snow. Then found.
Then came a sense of having lost the snow
or lost water or some infinite thing.

He watched the ME channel, day in and
day out. He couldn’t help it: An old fish
swam by some little fish, asking,

how’s the water? The skeletons in one
show taught parables about greed, envy,
and lust, to show that vices lead to loss.

This little rat got obsessed with
weight lifting and sex, for example.
She preened on, licking her tail & feet.

But the rat had already been lost, clearly,
or had already lost. From the beginning,
she looked thirsty. Her dark eyes peered out

as if toward some infinite thing, some body
of water from which to drink,
across which might be a horizon.

The guy remembered his time in Alaska
when, close to death, he had longed for God
with a purity that felt close to God, how

afterward the longing ebbed, and even
snow went back to being a hassle, often
dirty. The skeleton said truth every time

the rat said beauty. In the wild, you have to
melt snow before you drink it. He had known
that much, to separate the air from water.

(Heather Green, from No Omen.)

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