If I could feed your hunger
it would be like honey on my tongue
To stop your shivers with a woolen robe
would be for me like sunshine
warming my arms and back
If I could give you water, clean
and pure to drink
it would feed a spring of joy inside

I'd never be the same again

To help you stay alive
I'd reach across ten thousand miles
to dry your tears and feel
their wetness on my cheeks
To know that you are safe would be

like sliding down the curve of moon
like handstands on the points of stars
like dancing with the dolphins
laughing in the spray of surf
inside a whirl of wind

and life and death and you and I
will never be the same again.

      by Marni McGee



I heard a voice so like your voice,
I dared not turn to see.
For you, I knew, had gone away –
miles and years from me.
Drawn back -- a church, a hot July –
borne on memory's wing,
gathering smell and touch and calm,
I traveled back. I heard you sing.

by Marni McGee



that life spreads out beyond the Seen
in rivulets of being to hidden seas.
I believe that spirits come and go at will.

      The day of Obon, Kyoto . . .
when the dead come back to visit
the mourners kneel, rock, weep.
Droplets of grief collect in the temple
like rain rising to the rim of a bucket
spilling out beneath the Buddha’s eye
Drenched with longing, as from a sudden squall,
I see my father
moving between the golden screens
hear his voice, husky, saying the words
he always spoke after baptizing:
“And now, Lord, it is done,
even as Thou hast commanded, and yet
in Thy kingdom, there is room.”

He wore hip boots under his baptismal robes.
After he died, a friend scattered some of his ashes
in the stream where they used to fish for trout.

I believe we should drink eight glasses of water a day
and some should also be used to make tea,
strong enough to meet us halfway
across the ocean of waking,
then served with milk, not cream, and sugar.

      Scientists say that our bodies are 80% water.
which is crazy, of course. If that were true,
we would dissolve in the bathtub
like the fake ruby in the cereal-box ring
that Ben Zimmer gave me in 4th grade.

What do scientists know anyway?

I believe that water connects us.

     A baby emerges from the womb, wet
from his nine-month swim.
And an old woman’s lungs fill with water
stained by the rust of her years.

She boards a small boat.
Grasps the gunnels. Holds her breath.
But then, as the waves slap the sides
and splash her face with spray, I hear her laugh.
She leans forward, straining now for the harbor
where other hands will pull her craft ashore.

      by Marni McGee
      September 12, 2006



No river is ever lost
though drought may crack
the ribs of earth.
Encoded still in rock and silt,
the river knows her pulsing path.
She lies abed `til flood-rains come
to wake, arouse and set her free.

And then shall small boys
squat to fish
and girls,
their sweetness bare and bold,
bend to splash the river
like perfume on their necks
or slip through mirror glass
to swim.

And we, the dying, watch and wait
`til tumbling water blurs the bounds
erasing every footprint,
tossing shards upon the bank--
branch and bone,
broken glass and gold. . .

No river ever is lost—
nor by the earth forgot.

      by Marni McGee
      Published in Rivertalk 1998