March 31, 2020

RHONA MCADAM AND SWEET WATER AT THE POETRY PARTY


Rhona McAdam
BY THE GLASS

Free for the taking

through all my childhood,

crashing into glasses bouldered with ice,
poured thickly from the sides of plastic jugs,
the unremarked and neglected

sentry at the top of place settings,

sweating on formica,

seized to cure fits of coughing

or moments of spice, replenished

unasked and endlessly.

When the costly bottles came,

in thalassic greens and fluvial blues,
the taps still turned for the frugal,
and we got what we paid for,

tepid, swirling with mist, fragrant
with swamp, or sold for 10 p a glass at
a parsimonious caff in Cornwall.
We drank each chlorinated drop
and spared the tip.

In New Mexico restaurants,

cards propped on the tables

invited us to value even this, the stuff
of dishpans and swimming pools,
while all afternoon in the Hilton

the self-flushing toilets

thundered their copious refrain

in unoccupied stalls.

A friend has returned from Africa.

We sit on the beach in clothes the colour of sand,
watching clouds gather

on the undrinkable blue horizon.

Sweet Water editor Yvonne Blomer

Rhona McAdam's poem is from the anthology Sweet Water: Poems for the Watersheds, edited by Yvonne Blomer. It was meant to be launched March 18, 2020. Republished with permission from Caitlin Press. Copies may be ordered from the press.

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