Monday, May 03, 2010

Thirteen Ways

Less than a day's drive
from the snowy mountains
sits the city of San Francisco.

Water has three states,
a secular trinity
that provides life.

The autumn winds pull the fog
through the Golden Gate.

Hydrogen and oxygen
are one.
Liquid and ice and vapor
are one.

I do not know which to prefer
the beauty of thirst
or the beauty of slaking it.
Lifting the full glass
or emptying it.

Icicles filled the picture
above December's grid,
those barbaric teeth
of old man winter,
or are they instead
translucent carrots
growing in the sky?

O buff men of the city
surrounded by golden-skinned birds,
do you watch them as they drink
their vitamin water and sports drinks
after their runs along the bay?

I know the taste
of accented water -
the teas and coffees
and their rhythms
of afternoon and morning.

As the fog burned off,
its disappearing edge
was natural magic.

At the sight of the marine layer,
giving everything a gray light,
even the purples of pigeons
were a welcome flash of color.

He walked across the bridge,
stopping to look out at Alcatraz
-no glass cage for him-
and the fear
of too much freedom
and too much restraint
was the fog's shadow on him.

The sixteen rivers are moving.
The bay must be alive.

Then leaving in the morning
for afternoon snow-
and it was going to snow
they said,
watching the evergreens turn white.

* * * * *

This poem was inspired by the prompt to "write a water poem" at Poetic Asides.


  1. Very cool. At first I thought this one was inspired by Robert's prompt to write about a city.
    I hated that prompt because almost every poem written about a city could be written about ANY city.
    But here you made San Francisco seem unique.
    Maybe it's just that I've been there before, but you captured details unique to San Francisco.

    I like the line about the pigeons being a welcome flash of color. :)

  2. Reesha, thanks for your comments. I really intended it to be about water, but found the various forms of water in and around San Francisco helped me anchor the poem.