Devotion: Thirst Reduction


Wherever there was water—the upended lid of a mayonnaise jar
in the gutter, the gutter, the sober silver puddle, the frenzied lake,
the tear ducts, the dew, the beveled rain—we drank. We bent down
our lips to any inscription in the stone, to any pock or V, a dog bowl
on the porch, dimple, thimble, dent, collarbone hollow. We drank
from the palm, from the philtrum—that crease in the upper lip.
We wanted it quiet or we wanted Katrina. We sipped from the trumpet
of the honeysuckle, swallowed like circus freaks the swords of the iris
down to the hilt. We drank from your high-heeled shoes. Water
to slake the American thirst in our midbrain where the American
want was. It tasted a lot like misery dissolved in joy. We hoisted
more than one in the bedroom, at the kitchen table, on the floor,
over the sink, in the parking lot of the convenience store—
our gills fanning a flame we couldn't put out. From the bubbler,
the canteen, the sippy cup, from the pool of ink, we drank.
Given our affliction anything could be juiced—a car, a daughter.
(The art of juicing isn't hard to master.) In the wider-than-the-sky
brain, there is a larger-than-yourself mouth that fastens around you
like a lover, but a brutal, stupid lover, and here comes one now
who can reach inside you to the source of terror and pleasure,
under the ribs: Adam fetching a woman: that's how it felt.
(It wasn't a disaster.) None of us had milk for the other,
mammals that we were. We were soft skulled creatures
who cried when our ball fell down the storm sewer.
We could hear but we could not touch the fluency—
could not drink or drown, had to free ourselves
from ourselves using only our mouths.