The Water Next Time by Mara Lemanis

The Water Next Time by Mara Lemanis


The Water Next Time


It is the water, that sound

the music in the current


as it swells to meet the land

that sound


then muted

trapped in ice

music dimmed

a monotone voice

a fugue of bass notes

in a never-ending loop

till counterpoints of dust and plankton

sweep down the arctic slopes

to ring crescendos

drop soot

black notes against white sheets

studding the frigid breast of continents

polished by primordial winds

relentless wails


spinning soot in dizzy webs

like spiders drunk on snow melt

webs crossing centuries 

of deadly white

seeping rivulets of soot 

inside the motherlode

of polar glare

tuning melodies

like crystal glass

caressed by bony hands

stopped short a thousand meters down

inside the crust of water hard as stone

to open a black vein

between the white and gray

stilled into a bed

of motionless lake

narrow silent dark



as cymbals crash above

blare through the vasts

slice soot through layers dense 

with frozen fluid

shear trenches wide as birth canals

run rivers

plunging through eternities of winter

driving symphonies

a savage noise

a roar of kettle drums

roar of freedom

oblivious of the broken breast

they feed upon

plowing canyons in the sea

to vibrate in a valley decades deep

gouging a tower

miles down ocean floors

setting a million iron bells

to ring

to upwell surfs of salt

to scale the underside 

of bass-voiced mesas

to toll at polar palisades

a hymn of freedom

as tides rise unabated

to meet the land

to harvest it

for their own ends

and silence the moraine 

as arctic whiteness ebbs

leaving an afterbirth

that drops away

to ocean swells


a valediction to the land

blanketing the earth

with their eternal sound 

it is the water

that sound

song without end


--Mara Lemanis