May 20th, 2006

ozarque figure

Linguistics; stylistics; sf poetry being made, 2nd round; part 5...

I am more grateful than I can say for your help with this poem, and for all your contributions and criticisms and suggestions and inspirations; thank you. For me, the draft below is the final draft except for two loose ends: I still don't have a title that suits me -- the one shown is what's called a "working title" -- and I still don't have a name for the airline [TransDeltamerican Airlines, below] that I'm satisfied with.

Water Gathering, All Over the World -- Draft 10

That was the week when Lilani's father was caught and arrested
for two crimes.
First, the crime of crafting unauthorized water.
Worst, showing children one of the ways it's done.
How to dig the hole in the sand;
how to put the cup at the bottom of the hole;
how to lay the sheet of plastic over the top;
how to weigh its edges down with stones;
how to set on the plastic the one last stone to make the cone
where the water runs down underneath, into the cup.
"At the end of a long sunny day," he told the children,
"there'll be water in the cup." Unauthorized water.
"Understand," he told them. "And remember.
This water is not crude water.
This water comes from the sun, and is safe to drink."
"If we don't get caught," the children said, "it's safe to drink."
And Lilani's father nodded, saying: "Don't get caught."

When the water police took Lilani's father away,
my own father was furious.
"Damn the man!" my father said.
"Now where am I going to find another butler?"
Myself, I thought, "Where am I going to find
another Lilani?"

That was the week:
when the cheapest water at any decent restaurant
went to forty dollars a bottle;
when TransDeltamerican Airlines doubled the price
of water served on its transatlantic flights;
when statistics for Earthwide water-related deaths
were made exempt from the Freedom of Information Act;
when Congress made the drinking of crude or unauthorized water
a felony, trying to stop the deaths;
when Standard Water Corporation proudly announced
third quarter profits of thirty billion dollars.

And that was the week when we celebrated, dutifully,
my parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary.
We sat round our diningroom table together that night;
my parents, and we three wary daughters.

There was filet of sole.
There were little tender lettuces, served whole.
There were small potatoes, roasted in olive oil.
There was night-dark chocolate nested in golden foil.
There was a silver platter of sharp cheese.
There was a basket of flatbread crusted with seeds.
And there was fine water -- from a very good year --
a separate glass on the table for each one of us.
My father can afford a separate glass
for each one of us.

My mother gave my father a handsome fountain pen,
and a box of slender bottles of waterless ink.
My father gave my mother a golden necklace
strung with a dozen tiny crystal vials,
every vial filled with gleaming water,
pure and precious and forever shut away.

My sisters said nothing at all. But I’m not like that.
I stood up, and looked straight at my father, and I said to him:
"And does the card read 'Let them drink champagne'?"

[Link to Draft 7: ]
[Link to Draft 8: ]
[Link to Draft 9: ]