Published on Academy of American Poets (

A Touch

We rinse the glasses
from which we will drink

affordable whiskey
with scotch or absinthe,

my love and I, the less than
a swallow left of good

liquor scenting the whole
cocktail. What intoxication

we afford each other
cannot be excess or impure.


A dried-out, overused river
runs through, or rather,

idles in, our small city
where we never intended to settle.

Birds alight on odorous pools stranded
between mudflats, a baptism

in reverse—the body that enters
proclaiming the water clean.

They dip down plumed heads
to say this is enough.


The pigeons, so adaptable, delight
in dropped scraps. While we—

however many lovers late in life
—rub the rims of Sazeracs

with an orange’s remaining peel,
arousing a perfume.


Copyright © 2014 by Rose McLarney. Used with permission of the author.

About this Poem

“Since moving to Oklahoma, and away from the rivers by which I have always oriented, I became interested in dryness—drought, dams, also prohibitions about alcohol. My morning run is along the Arkansas, a river which often holds no water at all, but somehow I have come to love seeing what is laid bare there, and, because the state sells 3.2 beer at room temperature, I have begun to make my own cocktails, another new pleasure. How strangely happy I am, so: this poem of concession.”
Rose McLarney


Rose McLarney

Date Published: 2014-12-24

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