If there is standing water in the desert. If there is water and I am standing
over it. Staring down into the murk
or mirror of the pool.
If I am breathing. If I can see myself in the oasis.
If I am speaking and there is water
and you are there.
If you are also speaking. If we can hear across
the water, our voices
carrying in opposite directions,
our voices carrying. If our languages unspool in blue drifts
against the distance, escaping reticence.
If the distance of our reticence
is false. If it isn’t crossable.
If we cross it anyway.
Who will carry us? If our narratives erase us.
If our histories return to us
as names, and we are living
in the error of our alphabets. If the center of the letters
hurt. Master, Stranger. What is water,
where is water safe
if solitude displaces us? If we are homeless, finally,
each of us. If we wander past
each other, our faces moored
to their reflections,
the edges wrecked. Is it imaginary?
If the images we make
remake us. If there is mercy
in us. If our speaking
changes, and we, ourselves,
are changing, making. If we are made
in the image of the other. In ambiguity and contradiction.
If we consent
to not be solitary. If we imagine we are somewhere.
If there is shore
Copyright © 2018 by Nicholas Gulig. This poem appeared in Orient (CSU Poetry, 2018). Used with permission of the author.