“The Wish For Water”


Yesterday at the park I got into a conversation with a young mother who didn’t know what day of the week it was. “I’m on maternity leave,” she explained. “All days are the same right now.”

I’m having a confusing summer, too. For despite one glorious vacation and two more planned, I feel as though I’ve been working non-stop for months!  And ‘though it’s summertime the livin’ ain’t easy; even at peak moments my joy’s been, well, muted.

Why? At first I attributed these stirred-up feelings—or lack thereof—to three challenging, out-of-my-comfort-zone projects coming up for me this fall—and my perfectly logical anxiety! Deeper reflection, however, reveals a deeper truth: this has been the first summer I’ve truly experienced global warming. Up close and personal.

Record temperatures, a drought, weird weather patterns affecting crops like New England’s peaches; reducing fossil fuel emissions has never been more urgent for me.

But, wait! Have I allowed myself to truly listen to, as Thich Nhat Hanh says, “the sounds of the Earth crying”? No. Have I really addressed my despair? Named it? Let it have the time and attention it requires? No. Have I allowed myself to consider the millions already experiencing the havoc and upheaval and disruption due to climate change? No.

But I must.

As I write this the smell of basil, soon to be transformed into pesto, wafts from the kitchen; it’s a summer smell. Somerville’s goldfinches feast on the city’s sunflower crop this week; those finches’ bright, sweet call is a summer sound. Like it does every August, our planet’s about to cycle through the Perseid meteor shower.

Summer still happens, however parched or broiled. May I/ may we find strength and joy in its eternal rhythms.

California Hills In August
I can imagine someone who found
these fields unbearable, who climbed
the hillside in the heat, cursing the dust,
cracking the brittle weeds underfoot,
wishing a few more trees for shade.

An Easterner especially, who would scorn
the meagerness of summer, the dry
twisted shapes of black elm,
scrub oak, and chaparral, a landscape
August has already drained of green.

One who would hurry over the clinging
thistle, foxtail, golden poppy,
knowing everything was just a weed,
unable to conceive that these trees
and sparse brown bushes were alive.

And hate the bright stillness of the noon
without wind, without motion.
the only other living thing
a hawk, hungry for prey, suspended
in the blinding, sunlit blue.

And yet how gentle it seems to someone
raised in a landscape short of rain—
the skyline of a hill broken by no more
trees than one can count, the grass,
the empty sky, the wish for water.

by Dana Gioia


Join the Conversation


  1. Maybe, just maybe, there’s also that little thing we call the election.

    The poem gives a useful perspective, doesn’t it?

  2. Dear Patricia,

    Hi, there, Patricia, my so, so very For Always dearly special and dearly precious soul sisterfriend who you’re For Always so, so very much!!!!! Wow, what a brilliantly engaging blog post article this is of yours, my so, so very dearest friend! The title of this astounding blog post article from the beautiful quote in the remarkable poem you used by Dana Gioia perfectly accents the very theme and topic of this very great article, Patricia! The picture which you have placed very perfectly in this awesome writing perfectly adds to and complements this very thoughtful reflection of yours, my so, so very dearest sister! I thank-you so, so very much for these very interesting, informative, and fascinating links which you have very graciously and generously included with this very fine and excellent writing here, Patricia. I didn’t know and learned very joyously from you that Massachusetts usually has such a peach production and growth in your superbly super area, Patricia, and that it is not just Georgia which has such a peach production and growth!:)!!!! It for certain is very disheartening that your great state of Massachusetts had no peaches with this dearth of peaches. I just know that the peaches would have been just so, so very juicy, yummy, delicious, and delectable, and how disappointing this scarcity of good ol’ Massachusetts’ peaches must be, sister!

    Wow, what a great conversation you had on Monday at the park with the young mother who was expecting, sisterfriend! Sister, I know what she means by not knowing the day of the week it was, Patricia! Sometimes on occasion I forget momentarily what day of the week it would be then I realize soon what day of the week it is. Sister, I am just so, so very amazed and impressed by you and all of your greatly grand efforts in your very such diligent and conscientious work, writings, spiritual witness, anti-racism and anti-all other oppressive systems, other activism, and writings, Patricia!!!!!! For Always I pray for your very joy, your serenity and to somehow find rest and relaxation in all of this, my friend! I continue to pray for, think of, and to send to you For Always such positive energy as you have three challenging , out-of-your-comfort -zone projects upcoming in the Fall, and I uplift you to Spirit and keep you covered in prayers, thoughts, hopes, dreams, wishes, and sending you such very positive energy in general, my sister! I hear you when you share and declare that this summer you are for the first summer enduring and experiencing global warming up close and personal. I can just so relate here, too, dear Patricia! I can feel the very changes afoot as well here in my Iowa City, Iowa with the air quality changing for the worse and some slight but definitely distinct changes in the taste, appearance, and feel of the water, sister. Sister, I just marvel at and I so LOVE and enjoy how you try so hard to work on combating climate change. You do your absolutely very, very best and it is important to as you do have time for self-care and some good rest and relaxation with a time out from all of the chaos and cares of our society, country, and world. I am learning to do so as well in taking a time out for self-care despite all of the urgent needs and concerns of what needs to be done with the dire emergencies we have in our society, country, and world. You are so right on here, Patricia. We must but just do the very best we can. For Always I say, Progress, not perfection. It’s perfectly normal, natural, okay, and alright to be imperfect in this process, and in general for our very imperfect lives along our journey’s path. Sister, I thank-you so, so very much, so, so very profusely, kindly, dearly, and deeply for featuring this powerful poem by our Dana Gioia which speaks volumes very perfectly to the wish for water, the wanting and very craving for water, the very need and blessing of water. Your very insightful and enlightening blog post article, and this stupendous poem bring to mind for me that we all depend on water to live for our very survival. Our life-sustaining water enhances our lives and blesses us in quenching our thirst and spirits. Sister, I, too, am very concerned for the people in areas where they don’t have great access to water, and I am very alarmed by this just as you are, too, precious and special Patricia!!!!! For sure we lift up these beautiful people as our sisters and brothers and Spirit’s awesome children and keep them covered in prayers daily and frequently with such very intercessory prayers!!!!! And as you are so great at, dear, dearest Patricia, we must in a very practical and concrete manner do what we can to help our sisters and brothers in this way and to enact change towards stopping this train wreck with climate change. Wow, Patricia, you have me just very inspired and emboldened to do all of this necessary work, sister!!!!! Sisterfriend, I am just very, very re-energized, reinvigorated, rejuvenated, and renewed in my very, very heart, and very, very heart and spirit by this very inspirational and uplifting blog post article of yours, and I feel even brighter and more cheerful because of it, dearest, dearest sisterfriend of mine, Patricia, and because of YOU!!!!! Good woman of God who you are, sister, you help me with my walk with Jesus, my For Always sisterfriend Christian Quaker white woman who you’re For Always so, so very much, Patricia!!!!! Yay!!!!! Yay for you, Patricia!!!!!! Yay for our friendship and sisterhood, Patricia!!!!! Yay!!!!!

    Sister, I hope that you had such a very wondrously wonderful day yesterday on Wednesday!!!!! By the time you read this, please have such a totally terrific and a very thrilling Thursday, a wondrously wonderful weekend ahead, and may all of your very days be just very especially blessed, Patricia!!!!! Sister, YOU are my very joy and blessing, and so are all of your magnificent writings, as I know that YOU are, too, as well as your very absolutely amazing writings to your other very, very many grateful and appreciative readers!!!!! Sister, Spirit just so, so very much loves and cherishes you, as I do as well so, so very much love and cherish you, Patricia!!!!! Yay yay yay yay!!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my sisterfriend Christian Quaker white woman who you’re For Always so, so very much, Patricia, with Such Very Peace and Love To You For Always, my sister, and with Such Very Blessings and Even More Such Very Blessings To You For Always, my so, so very dearest and darling friend,

    Your sisterfriend Christian black woman For Always and For Always in the very spirit and solidarity, Sherry Gordon in Iowa City, Iowa

  3. Hello, there, again, sister!!!!! Patricia, oops I forgot to say that I just have such a beautiful and lovely image of the enticing aroma of basil soon to be transformed into pesto with such a yummy, delicious, and delectable summer smell that I can just envision so, so very well that I can almost smell it!!!!! :)!!!!! I just so LOVE the bright and cheery image of Somerville’s goldfinches feasting on your all-star city’s summer sunflower crop and the sweet and melodious chirping and singing of these glorious birds, sisterfriend!!!!! Sister, I, too, am so, so very much looking forward to with such very, very bursting, delightful and eager anticipation for the awesome, other worldly appearance of the Perseid meteor shower with all of its glowing, radiant display in all of its brilliance, Patricia!!!!! The marvelous link which you very graciously and generously put with this fabulous article is just very informative, fascinating, and interesting, my so, so very dearest friendsister of mine who you’re For Always so, so very much, Patricia!!!!!! Thank-you so!!!!!!

  4. Those golden hills were my playground as a young one. Slid down them on flattened cardboard boxes. California snow. Thanks for the poem. And your words.

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