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About this Poem 

“Hopeless poems about the unimaginable future can seem voyeuristic. Hopeful ones can feel fake. ‘Showers’ is trying to find a balance, but not the middle ground of compromise. The child is real.”
D. Nurkse

Showers

The child tells me,  put a brick in the tank,  
don’t wear leather, don’t eat brisket,
snapper, or farmed salmon
—not tells,
orders—doesn’t she know the sluice gates
are wide open and a trillion gallons
wasted just for the dare of it?  

Until the staring eye shares that thrill,
witnessing: I am just iris and cornea,
blind spot where brain meets mind,
the place where the image forms itself
from a spark
image of the coming storm.

Still the child waits outside the bathroom
with the watch she got for Best Essay,
muttering,  two minutes too long.

Half measures, I say. She says, action.
I: I’m one man. She: Seven billion

If you choose, the sea goes back.

Copyright © 2015 by D. Nurkse. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 7, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets. 

Copyright © 2015 by D. Nurkse. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 7, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets. 

D. Nurkse

D. Nurkse

D. Nurkse is the author of ten poetry collections, including A Night in Brooklyn (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012). He currently teaches in the MFA program at Sarah Lawrence College. 

by this poet

poem
We could not separate ourselves from our endless making.
We were always fabricating time, God, paradise, 
the bell-shaped lupines, the rough-grained elm
and smooth beech. We made the night sky from a rusty hinge,
the sea from a sigh and a bead of sweat. We made love
long before dawn. We constantly modified each
poem
In that lit window in Bushwick
halfway through the hardest winter
I cut plexiglass on a table saw,
coaxing the chalked taped pane
into the absence of the blade,
working to such fine tolerance
the kerf abolished the soft-lead line.
I felt your eyes play over me
but did not turn—dead people
were not allowed in
poem
1
They’re happy but don’t know it.
They think they’re bored and hate each other.

The other has forgotten the hammer and must pound
each triangular tent peg with a damp stone
that has a smooth underside but no flat plane,
and here the earth is granite or friable lichen.

The whoosh could be a horsefly, rain, or