The Damp in Things

In honor of poetry month:

Balancing Act

I sip the skin off warm Milo
and watch the freckled surface break.
I clutch at its edge with my lips
to steady the drifting

and open my nostrils to the warmth
of poinsettias, pale and half bleeding.
A solitary tentacle stretches toward my cheek.
Once your starapple colour:

The day is sliced open,
the sky is mauve-bellied, and the air
clots. Reluctant to move, I dangle
in this moment, ornament in December.


At the standpipe the women hold
their bellies and swing the dented pails,
empty and dry as the loosening gold
that rises as the evening light flails.
As if there was no drought, no barren earth,
they gather, old fashioned urns, faithful,
waiting for some favourable word;
but the time trickles, and the waters pull
back, until only thirst is in this age,
and the urns are baked with sore regret.
Yet still they wait for water to delay
the hardening of their bodies with its wet.
I hear their whispers rising dry as dust,
see faces; shadow-carved; see buckets rust.

--Millicent A.A. Graham
The Damp in Things