by Gwendolyn MacEwen

When you think of it, water is everything. Or rather,
Water ventures into everything and becomes everything.
It has
All tastes and moods imaginable; water is history
And the end of the world is water also.
I have tasted water
From London to Miranshah. In France it tasted
Of Crusaders’ breastplates, swords, and tunnels of rings
On ladies’ fingers.
In the springs of Lebanon water had
No color, and was therefore all colors,
outside of Damascus
It disguised itself as snow and let itself be chopped
And spooned onto the stunned red grapes of summer.

For years I have defended water, even though I am told
there are other drinks.
Water will never lie to you, even when it insinuates itself
Into someone else’s territory. Water has style.

Water has no conscience and no shame; water
thrives on water, is self-quenching.
It often tastes of brine and ammonia, and always
Knows its way back home.

When you want to travel very far, do as the Bedouins do—
Drink to overflowing when you can,
and then
Go sparingly between wells.