About this Poem 

"An ephemeral stream flows intermittently or seasonally, leaving a record of water, though there's rarely water flowing in it. You can find them etched in the arid landscapes of the West and Southwest. I learned this term while walking with friends in the hills near Ucross, Wyoming."
—Elizabeth Willis

Ephemeral Stream

Elizabeth Willis

This is the way water 
thinks about the desert.
The way the thought of water 
gives you something 
to stumble on. A ghost river.
A sentence trailing off
toward lower ground.
A finger pointing
at the rest of the show.

I wanted to read it. 
I wanted to write a poem 
and call it "Ephemeral Stream"
and dedicate it to you
because you made of this 
imaginary creek
a hole so deep 
it looked like a green eye 
taking in the storm, 
a poem interrupted 
by forgiveness.

It's not over yet.
A dream can spend 
all night fighting off 
the morning. Let me
start again. A stream 
may be a branch or a beck, 
a crick or kill or lick,
a syke, a runnel. It pours 
through a corridor. The door 
is open. The keys
are on the dashboard. 

Copyright © 2014 by Elizabeth Willis. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on January 2, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2014 by Elizabeth Willis. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on January 2, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Elizabeth Willis

by this poet

poem

I came back to the meadow an unsuspecting hart, trying to wake up from a long night of walking. I was looking for a subtext, a heavy horsy bee doing battle with its inclination. What’s your angle? A little evanescent on the rim, it’s only a willow, beaked and shining, a toothy margin holding up banks. Have we