WATER-BEARING by Daniel Barnum

slip on mud slick


just past the head


point of the path


land fairly un-


balanced on leaf


dust ground up


under feet bare


ground beneath


that rarely seen


at scale but never-


theless teeming




mud carpet made

architectonic with

monocot husks. how

close will trespass

let me see black

shapes approach

the forest’s front door?

banks built up

by roots, blistering

sorts of bark and

poison ivy’s allergic

blisses slope the cause-

way down into river.

branches wrenched

through liquid move-

ment back to gas

or solid. through three

transitional states

water remains

perfectly neutral

returning; rises

and dissipates

according to given

limits knows where

it’s going remembers

landscape at molecular

levels will not end

willingly becomes

whatever needs it

without thinking




mud shore frozeninto solidcross-hatch


crushedtallgrassland bows


under icepath cutsa gnarledstaircase


your thumb’sa compassat whatangles do


weather-felled limbspiercewinter cover


one way to knowwater isby hand