Certainly Water by Shebana Coelho

Certainly Water

When I think of water spilling from a green bottle onto a wooden floor and the danger
it poses to a carpet and the Moroccan women I met once, Berber women with kohl
lined eyes and mehndi on their hands, who made carpets from wool they sheared
themselves, and who ululated on request for pictures because outside of Morocco that’s what they were, ululating Berber women—

when I think of water spilling, I think of the green bottle translucent in the evening light
like a summer skirt through which you can see the outline of legs and how, if you were
in India, you’d have to wear a slip or a petticoat because if some aunty saw you on the
street, that’s the first thing she’d say, “wear a petticoat or something,” but you are not
there now and here is a green translucent bottle, emptied of water and a wooden floor
and a rug woven with memories of dark-eyed Berber women and see-through skirts and
petticoat-wearing aunties walking at the edge of the ocean, greeting other aunties and
holding down their scarves when the wind comes to call, and the water spilling as swift
as a hiccup, as swift as the swallow in the mead hall of the venerable Bede, the swallow that comes from the unknown, lingers in light and flies out again.

We are the lit mead hall, this life, and we are also the swallow and we are certainly
water.

by Shebana Coelho, first published in New Mexico Mercury.

Editor’s Note: Run-on sentences are usually impossible to navigate in long works of fiction, but in a poem can be used to great effect. The first part of this poem conveys the rambling nature of internal thinking and sets the tone for the rest of the story.