The Names of Water by Larry Schug

The Names of Water

There is a name, though I’ve never heard it spoken,
That the roots of aspen cities give to you
When their inhabitants come to drink
With their tongues burrowing into the earth,
All the names peoplekind have given you
Because they don’t know the names you give yourself
Though you speak them in one language or another for all to hear,
Calling yourself a different name when you flow over stones
Or when you wash up on shore,
When you sing in duet with wind,
When you fill a glass with a small waterfall
Pouring from a faucet,
When you bubbledrum, then whistle in a tea kettle,
When fire laps you up in order to die,
When all forms of tongues come to you,
When throats absorb you and blood
Carries you throughout all bodies
And who knows all the names given you
By the myriad walkers and flyers
That come to you in order to live,
Object of earthly thirst
When you change your name from rain to river to rain again.

by Larry Schug

Editor’s Note: The unexpected onomatopoeia in the center of this poem decorates the personification of water with sound. Poems like this are a gift—arriving just when we need them most.

She Remembers Blue by Larry Schug

She Remembers Blue
(for Katelyn)

As she perches in a small cave
carved by wind and rain and time
in the chalky gothic walls of Plaza Blanca,
I tell my blind friend,
who has a type of vision not available to me,
about the Sangre de Cristo mountain range at sunset,
fifty miles distant,
capped with snow the color of blood.
She tells me about how even the sound of raven wings
reverberates off canyon walls,
how her tapping cane and her footsteps
make different sounds on stone or sand,
how those sounds come back to her ears
differently from everything she passes.
She says she remembers the sky
from before her eyes closed.
She remembers blue.

by Larry Schug

Editor’s Note: This poem’s narrative hangs on a particular indescribable image, and the emotional impact resonates long after reading.