(Stories) Poetry| Aquaduct

Study in oil and water

Study in oil and water
Rhian Brynjolson

This poem,
written by Jennifer Still,
is a poet’s response
to Rhian Brynjolson‘s
Study in oil and water.


How do we speak of the ill?
When our most valuable infrastructure
is built on an epidemic rusting.
I can’t see the pipes in my kitchen
walls where I want to cut a hole.
I want a hole through
what I can’t see.

The lake looks right through me.
(You lie there with a lie inside.)
I am not seeing what happens
behind the dam. Behind your
closed mouth.


There is a light pouring
behind you. A round
hatch. All the water has been
drained so you can be here
imagining another way
out. The flash has caught
your eyes so empty
they tip themselves
back. I walk by thinking
mirror, thinking look.
The exit frames you, a halo
in those Christian paintings.
You stand up inside the main
artery and smile with two holes
in your head, toward the pressure.
Light streams where the flood is being
held back.


Look: there is an iv inside of it: live.
A blink in the birdhouse. Another.

Two eyes behind one hole behind
the spine of something

feathering. A bedsheet can be raised
like a sail. Cleanliness can be peace.

If the bolus was a birdhouse,
the feedline our steady rain.


The breath is made of sticks. Tent flutter.
The pencil holds center post.

There is that taut catch in clavicle,
hammock where I lie down and measure

your sips. A pen is said to make the incision
in a pinch. There, where you breathe, where

I pour a small lake
for the bird to drink.

Talking Water Project|Stories

Talking Water Project|Jennifer Still

Talking Water Project|Rhian Brynjolson

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