The child tells me,  put a brick in the tank,  
don’t wear leather, don’t eat brisket,
snapper, or farmed salmon
—not tells,
orders—doesn’t she know the sluice gates
are wide open and a trillion gallons
wasted just for the dare of it?  

Until the staring eye shares that thrill,
witnessing: I am just iris and cornea,
blind spot where brain meets mind,
the place where the image forms itself
from a spark
image of the coming storm.

Still the child waits outside the bathroom
with the watch she got for Best Essay,
muttering,  two minutes too long.

Half measures, I say. She says, action.
I: I’m one man. She: Seven billion

If you choose, the sea goes back.


Copyright © 2015 by D. Nurkse. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 7, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“Hopeless poems about the unimaginable future can seem voyeuristic. Hopeful ones can feel fake. ‘Showers’ is trying to find a balance, but not the middle ground of compromise. The child is real.”
D. Nurkse