Evaporations

by Alice Oswald

I

What I admire is Dew
To have the strength of Dew
To pass apparitional through a place
Without trace or title
To be Snow!
To be almost actual!
Oh pristine example
Of claiming a place on the earth
Only to cancel
Rain
Rain
Smashed against stone
I love leaf and un-leaf
Of frost and un-fern
All these incisions
And indecisions of the Dawn
Yes Yes there is Ice but I notice
The Water doesn’t like it so orderly
What Water admires
Is the slapstick rush of things melting
I have taken my bedding to the fields
First it was Mist
Uncontrollably whispering
Then it was Dew
Disclosing the cold in my mind
Saying simply that it
Comes from nothing
And will return to nothing
Then it was…

II

In their lunch hour
I saw the shop-workers get into water
They put their watches on the stones and slithered
frightened
Into the tight-fitting river
And shook out cuffs of splash
And swam wide strokes towards the trees
And after a while swam back
With rigid cormorant smiles
Shocked I suppose from taking on
Something impossible to think through
Something old and obsessive like the centre of a rose
And for that reason they quickly turned
And struggled out again and retrieved their watches
Stooped on the grass-line hurrying now
They began to laugh and from their meaty backs
A million crackling things
Burst into flight which was either water
Or the hour itself ascending.

 

 

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