we steal water when we make rain, the way

everything I have is from somewhere else,

from someone else, what I am


the riverbed looks scalded

but the wound is full thickness

and elsewhere


in a variegated field or on a lawn

of grass named for a saint

or a saint once removed


we can’t walk on it

eventually it comes up

dry and tired


the way we wear everything out

especially each other

listening with heavy feet


unlike the river which never tires

whose pocket we pick

down to the lint


Martha Serpas

Martha Serpas has published three collections of poetry, Côte Blanche, The Dirty Side of the Storm, and, most recently, The Diener. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, Image, and Southwest Review. A native of Southern Louisiana’s wetlands, she co-produced Veins in the Gulf, a documentary about coastal erosion. She teaches at the University of Houston and serves as a hospital trauma chaplain. More information about her work can be found at marthaserpas.com.


©Martha Serpas, “Irrigation,” first appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, V14N2, Fall 2014.  Reprinted with permission of the author.

This material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0  License.

Recommended Citation: Serpas, Martha. (2015) “Irrigation,” The Yale ISM Review: Vol. 2: No. 1, Article 9. Available at:  https://www.ismreview.yale.edu

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