Of Water Made, to Water We Return
an original, free verse poem
I'm having trouble with showering,
arms raised to wash shoulder-length,
water-heavy hair; with bending.
I'm having trouble with her poem, as
with fantasy novels. Cryptic, obscure,
alien and alienating, brow-knitting.
Trouble with straight standing, as with
inflections, clipped “-ton” suffixes caught
in the throat, and profound platitudes like
approval seals on her three-person selfie.
A drink in each hand--one coffee,
one water with lemon-cucumber ice--she
trots her foil-plated locks off to process.
I stay behind, brief neighbor, to sit,
scalp burning, my own foils foiling. Later,
a brow touch-up stings eyelids to itching,
replacing the usual trimmed-end scratch
on my nape and collar.
I'm lighter headed but neck-weighty
on the drive home. Eyes water, follicles
fry, emaciated eyebrows pulse and fade.
I'm having trouble with salon and spa,
as with why anyone would want to live
in L.A. if they didn't have to.
I'm having trouble with branding and
niche building, as with popes' art.
Douse these fires.
I'm trouble with a spoon and fork,
less so with a knife. Deadly strikes
are stains on my shirt front, and down.
Water is conquered and conqueror.
Life giving. But whose life?
Life of what? Of water, not me.
My drinking problem starts with
the cup, the vessel--not beverage--its grip.
But what of the wet part? It is I who am taken
in, for I do the malabsorption shake.
Wet or dry, I struggle with much less
clothing than women with corsets,
bum rolls, and skirts (wet or dry)
to the toe had to endure.
I struggle all the same.
This bod goes boddice-less
and bobs with bra to belly
shelf, not a babe's in
either sense. Bust
but not sculpture.
My left hip, wrist, and neck
joints gather us in, the floods
that come, to the water, to intumesce
in my right thumb's base joint.
My thenar eminence, the blind and the lame--
lamb's blood, spent ink in the hour of palm
--neither bleeting nor praying.
No mercy. No script, just scribbles.
No takeaways or peace grants. Just scrap
and muscle cramps.
Two weeks and the left knee's bulging,
back to front, calf to cap, quad to shin,
through and through.
Ballooned after two weeks off drugs,
the aqueous drug. Stop-gap pre-filled
solution. The syringe barely reaches
my sinews, adding water under skin
in a burn-like bubble where
a pocket of tadpoles learns
to squat, stretch, and
croak. They are now
the most dexterous
I have trouble rising and staying
risen. Suggestible, my skull base
sags under a top-heavy brain, my fat
noodle. Yes, that must be it. And laptop
computing, from eye and finger to synapse.
Results: conquered. Rest eludes as I fall
asleep . . . pleu snorge cawgh nuff
— contact sports? — Hum, drone,
womp womp, pulsing house fan
flow. Groaning grunts of
stuff and nonsense. My
vessel pours through
vessel. No longer
on edge, I
Air swells with humidity-
empty particles, compounding
the gray blanket
over the earth, reverberating through
the filter, the vents, window-frame
cracks, holey screens, the air our
eaves own, the outdoor gas
mixture, and up into the
this dull throw.
The pointless, endless, homeless
expansion becomes virtual oceanic
abyss, imploding every living thing
of too much air and water. Contact sport.
As I nod off, sitting here, my fingers
sear with the strain of their own joints'
Aflame, the hand knows best unnatural heat--
come temperate or scorching summer; dry,
cool autumn; or ice-white winter.
But rather than melt, the fascia
adhere in knots to the muscles.
Sticky and stuck, locked
fire or flood--has a recipe: Add
whiplash to blood splash out the nose,
extract thyroid node (with butterfly wing
and body) by knife, erode bones of edges
pressure molded from misfired orders
to swell; crush and shiver into
sulk-hulking slump. Stew. Re-
hash. Overcook. Ignore.
Serve nothing and
Clean-up: Have a
drink of water. Splash some
on your face. Breathe in. Out.
Rub the brow. Flex the fist.
(No other contact sports,
especially watery ones.)
written August-September 2015 by C.L. Tangenberg
on living with rheumatoid arthritis