The NY Review of Books 1/16/03 Vol L #1A serious moment for the water iswhen it boils
And though one usually regards itmerely as a convenience
To have the boiling wateravailable for bath or table
Occasionally there is someone
around who understands
The importance of this momentfor the water-maybe a saint,
Maybe a poet, maybe a crazyman, or just someonetemporarily disturbed
With his mind "floating"in asense, away from his deepest
Personal concerns to more"unreal" things...A serious moment for the islandis when its trees
Begin to give it shade, andanother is when the oceanwashes
Big heavy things against its side.One walks around and looks atthe island
But not really at it, at what is onit, and one thinks,
It must be serious, even, to be thisisland, at all, here.
Since it is lying here exposed tothe whole sea.All its
Moments might be serious.It isserious, in such windy weather,to be a sail
Or an open window, or a featherflying in the street...Seriousness, how often I havethought of seriousness
And how little I have understoodit, except this: serious is urgent
And it has to do with change.Yousay to the water,
It's not necessary to boil now,and you turn it off.It stops
Fidgeting.And starts to cool.Youput your hand in it
And say, The water isn't seriousany more.It has the potential,
However-that urgency to giveoff bubbles, to
Change itself to steam.And thewind,
When it becomes part of ahurricane, blowing up thebeach
And the sand dunes can't keep itaway.
Fainting is one sign ofseriousness, crying is another.
Shuddering all over is anotherone.A serious moment for thetelephone is when it rings.
And a person answers, it isAngelica, or is it you.A serious moment for the fly iswhen its wings
Are moving, and a seriousmoment for the duck
Is when it swims, when it firsttouches water, then spreads
Its smile upon the water...A serious moment for the matchis when it burst into flame...Serious for me that I met you, andserious for you
That you met me, and that we donot know
If we will ever be close to anyoneagain.Serious the recognitionof the probability
That we will, although timestretches terribly inbetween...
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