It didn’t matter, didn’t mean anything. Too much
hair, he said, and flesh, and cigarettes. He was

drunk. She tasted bad. He thinks she faked it. Just
what had appeared to be your life lifted from your hands

and spilling, a little. You lay at the bottom, a still,
speeding place. Of the cold like a trout, of the silence

behind motion,  you were less than the fish. But it waited
for you—honey-colored shed, new timing belt, a fly with eyes

like green fire—back in the air. You let go of the bottom where
dead things rolled and the light broke back into your lungs.


NANCY WHITE's work has appeared in journals such as Ploughshares, Rattle, Nimrod, Seneca Review, Field, and many others. Her first book, Sun, Moon, Salt, won the Washington Prize for Poetry. She has an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence and has enjoyed residencies at MacDowell and The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Serving as Associate Editor at The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, where she also writes a review column, and as editor and president of The Word Works in DC keeps her honest.

Of her second book, Detour (Tamarack Editions, 2010), Denise DuHamel says: “Nancy White’s Detour is fierce, feminist, fantastic. Her wit, her precision, the threads of her narratives make beautiful and whole what is torn. Her deft syntactic disruptions mirror the domestic theater of these poems. A poet of grace and wonder, Nancy White writes poems that are substantial, intelligent, stylistically marvelous.”

You can check out her blog at

3 responses to “The Water Said”

  1. Simon Smithson says:

    Interesting that this should come up right after I’d had a conversation about the concept of the fertile void. I liked reading this a lot, Nancy.

  2. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Simon, you do have a unique way of talking dirty, bro 😛

    “Of the cold like a trout, of the silence / behind motion, you were less than the fish.”

    Very nice. A pleasant undertone of D.H. Lawrence or William Carlos Williams without being the least bit derivative.

  3. Wonderful poem! Flesh, Faked, Fish . . . fabulous.

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