The Frequency of Water

I couldn’t understand,
while living,
the clamor of hot showers:
crowds bursting to touch hair,
overrunning curvatures
of chin, the hirsute valley
of sternum, jettisoning off the bulb
of penis, then falling away,
like strangers who’d just witnessed
the same crime.

33 Replies to “The Frequency of Water”

  1. Reading the comments illuminated so much for me. I always love how your words fall together and the images you paint so vividly. What tripped me in this was the first three lines, which I kept reading as “I couldn’t understand while living the clamor of hot showers” instead of “I couldn’t understand, while living, the clamor of hot showers,” The line break should have clued me in, but I guess my brain wasn’t working that way tonight. That is always the challenge with poetry, I think. I probably would have “gotten it” right away with a little sleep and fresh eyes. This is all to say that I don’t think you were being obtuse. I think poetry requires several readings, and that’s a good thing. And I think that’s why there is such a range of responses here. Well done, Nate. A smart little poem should be challenging.

    1. Nope, you’re right, Meg. I used commas throughout the rest of the poem; they should have been there as well. On an unrelated note, submitting this poem has taught me that I need to stop apologizing for my writing.

      1. Yes, you do need to stop apologizing! You are a gifted writer. If you need proof of that — go back to all the many awestruck comments. It is hard when someone doesn’t “get” what you’re writing, but that doesn’t mean that you are a bad writer or that you need to apologize. Sometimes you need to listen and make changes, sometimes you need to accept that not everyone has the same taste, and sometimes the reader is plain wrong. In each of these cases, no apology is needed. Just remember: you are a lovely writer.

    1. It’s funny the blinders we writers can have to our own work. I thought when I posted it that this poem was clear as day. Now I see that the main metaphor of the shower water rushing up like a crowd to meet the bather is a bit obtuse. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.

  2. I had to read this one several times because, well, I’m not the brightest bulb, but someone must have switched the light on and wow. I see the water running in slow motion and dream-like out of the shower head and cascading down a warm body that is no longer there. I also would echo Jennifer’s comment.

    1. Haha! No, I was thinking it was about a man describing what he missed most about living after being killed in a crime. But I realize most of that isn’t in there. Thanks for the comment.

  3. You definitely have me thinking of water in a new way–clamor, crowds, strangers…You’ve illuminated this small moment like sunlight sparkling in the drops.

  4. I really like the ending: “like strangers who’d just witnessed / the same crime” – it’s emotive and hard to pin down, which is one of the responses I always enjoy most when reading a poem.

  5. This could be about so many things depending on how you read it, each time it could be about something different or have a different story. There’s so many interpretations here, there’s so many ways this could be read.

      1. I like how there’s so many different interpretations depending on how one reads it. That’s not always or necessarily a bad thing. The author’s original intentions can many times be really misinterpreted by the reader, the writer never knows how their piece will be received. I know how that feels, my writing’s been misinterpreted too. I think it happens to every writer.

        Anyway, it was a good piece Nate, good imagery. Thought it was among the best on the grid.

  6. Aww shucks!
    That said, I hope you know that the kindness is sincere. I just read in another reply that you are an editor more so than a writer. You have gifts in both areas and I learn so much by reading. Have a great rest of the day! 🙂

  7. I always look forward to reading your take on the prompt. You came through again!!
    AND, you used one of my favorite words–hirsute…I have yet to find it a place in my own writing 🙂

    1. What a nice thing to read! Thank you very much, Kir. I’m especially grateful for your words because I almost chickened out on this one; felt like I might have gone too far. And I might have.

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