Bodies of Water by Julia van der Ryn

My feet are wet, I am wading through moments.

Soggy, I sit.

The water rises 

as I soak in the memory of you. Soak and remember.

Just as it once took you away, it is always the water

that brings you back.


A shower, a rare commodity in a 1982 foreigner’s



always in search of warm water. 


I followed a trail of dewy drops to find you. You–

moistly compressed, yet fresh, in your incongruous

Peruvian sweater.


Your hair was wet and a halo of steam crowned your


I breathed in the scent of tropical fruit, of papayas

and mangos

ripening in the heat. 

A south of all south’s heat. A human heat. The heat

of heats.


That night I waited for you at Notre Dame. Notre, I’ll be damned,

I thought, as I circled that church until finally

you appeared––

walking across the fit-together stones of her courtyard

with the walk of a man whose prayers are not answered

in church.


The moon was mirrored in the stained-glass windows

and the dark all around wore its light.

I remember still how the warm salty breeze of you

absolved me

of waiting, and mostly,

of doubt.


You taught me your

Rules of Survival in Cold, Cruel Countries:

We drank cheap Wimpy’s coffee and

jumped turnstiles.With dental floss and toothpicks,

you rigged coinless calls

across continents and oceans.

I listened to your language of wind

swishing through palm trees,

musical bananas

and waves.