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What the Water Knows by Sam Hamill

I keep having these dreams where I am asleep underwater. I’ve never known such peace. It calls to me so much, to make it happen. It scares me a little.

What the Water Knows
Sam Hamill

What the mouth sings, the soul must learn to forgive.
A rat’s as moral as a monk in the eyes of the real world.
Still, the heart is a river
pouring from itself, a river that cannot be crossed.

It opens on a bay
and turns back upon itself as the tide comes in,
it carries the cry of the loon and the salts
of the unutterably human.

A distant eagle enters the mouth of a river
salmon no longer run and his wide wings glide
upstream until he disappears
into the nothing from which he came. Only the thought remains.

Lacking the eagle’s cunning or the wisdom of the sparrow,
where shall I turn, drowning in sorrow?
Who will know what the trees know, the spidery patience
of young maple or what the willows confess?

Let me be water. The heart pours out in waves.
Listen to what the water says.
Wind, be a friend.
There’s nothing I couldn’t forgive.

Comments (2)

  • Narda Mahanga

    Hello Sam Hamill. Just wanted to say how much I enjoy your poems & your comments in various interviews I have read. The internet is great in relation to discovering ‘new’ poets.
    I first (strange as it may seem) began reading haiku many years ago before coming to other forms of poetry. Due a peripatetic kind of living after leaving school early, disillusioned for several reasons. If of a curious nature, one is lead to things and learns much from life generally…
    I have read a couple of your poems to a poetry sharing group I belong to (always of course acknowledging its origin). There are always interesting discussions following each poem we bring to share. We don’t read our own poems there so feel free to range widely in discussion.
    I enjoy reading Chinese & Asian poets, particularly the ancients, among many other international works.
    Thanks again for all you do – towards peace and a more humane world. I look forward to further poems (yours) and posts.

    Regards ~ Narda Mahanga (of NZ & living in Australia)


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