March 2022

Back to Issue 11


By David Adès

               Beechwood Boulevard, 2011 



I found the sodden body of your words 

lying on the pavement 


shaggy and unkempt as a vagrant, 

your fingerprints and DNA, 


your forensic signature all over it 

like at a crime scene. 


I took it home, dried it out, 

unstuck each page from the next, 


let the ripple of your words 

beach upon the shore of my eyes. 



Here, at the shore of my eyes, 

for a short while —  


between my baby daughter’s 

cries, her urgent necessities — 


I steeped myself in your words, 

images unfolding haphazard as dreams: 


the angular geometry of bats, 

the moon’s white murmurings, 


ghosts and shadows,  

the easy comfort of dogs, 


the burnished mirror  

in your sister’s eyes. 


Amid the background solace 

of house and home 


you gathered skirts of darkness, 

wandered in half-light, 


tides of illness 

and punctuations of sun and blue. 


In your thirst you drank  

the body’s sustenance, 


sketched and sketched 

its architectures of bones,  


its myriad named anatomies: 

viscera and limbs, anchors of spine, 


‘violin hips’, ‘melon rinds of rib’, 

the mouth’s unending quest. 


I wandered there too 

for a short while, 


between my baby daughter’s cries, 

her urgent necessities. 



This is what you do not know: 

who picks up the petal 


you have dropped into the Grand Canyon, 

who looks upon it in wonder 


as if upon the first petal, 

who is moved and who is indifferent 


to your Alphabet of Thirst

the life it leads outside your life, 


the friends it makes, where it resonates, 

the secrets it keeps from you. 



The ripple does not return. 

In time there will be other things: 


a silent ear, a wind’s breath, 

a bell’s distant ring, 


faint echoes, whispers, messages  

arriving from unexpected quarters, 


and somewhere, your truths, 

those moments you have prized 


out of your earth, 

cut and polished, 


will resonate, will hum 

a song and hear an answer.  



Note and acknowledgement regarding the poem ‘Ripple’:  In May 2011, some weeks after arriving to live in Pittsburgh, I was walking my youngest daughter in a pram along Beechwood Boulevard each day. For some days, if not weeks, I walked past a Chatham University bound folder that was lying on the footpath. Eventually, I picked it up. It was a water damaged and bedraggled original copy of a thesis by Siobhan Casey – including a poetry collection entitled ‘An Alphabet of Thirst’ – submitted for the degree of MFA.