Monday, April 3, 2017

"Water-Tight Soul" by James Frederick William Rowe

Water-Tight Soul
James Frederick William Rowe
                                    --6:30 AM
I did not realize
It would rain so hard
I thought myself invulnerable
By my water-proof shoes
Until the flaw of a
Hole in the sole
Let the cold water in
I can feel my toes sloshing
In the muck

The puddles of life
Are no less deep
Filled by a bitter disappointment
Freshly rained
And yet here I am impregnable
Though I pretend to be soaked
Mimicking the emotions
I do not feel
"Look at me, I am crushed!"
But I feel nothing

My soul is water-tight
I do not let the waters in
They do not touch me
So let it storm
Let it storm and I shall wade
Knee-deep if I must
Kiss my tears
You shall find them water
The sorrow is but
A mask of the rain

Would that my feet
Were as dry as my heart

Poet’s Notes:  Most of my poems are fairly impersonal and intellectual. What poems I do write which are personal, I often do not reveal as especially personal, because there is another theme at play. But this poem is personal, and it is about how I react to bad news.

I received some pretty bad news a month ago, professionally speaking, and I realized that in spite of my intellectual recognition of the unfortunate nature of the news, I felt nothing at all. Nevertheless, I felt obliged to pretend that I was so upset to the point of saying that I was upset when I felt nothing--this after I had already resolved to continue on in spite of myself and put aside all the nonsense.

The event that inspired this poem occurred, as the poem indicates, at 6:30 in the morning as I was walking to work. I discovered that my watertight shoes literally had a hole in the sole, leading to my right foot being soaked before I even made it to the corner. I write poems about most of the weird things that happen to me in life, and the idea to write a poem about this came to me by the time I sat down in the subway.  I believe I finished it over two rides with the immediate idea that I should connect it to my "watertight soul" which is, of course, a play on words.

The poem begins speaking about the actual hole in my sole, moves to the lack of a hole in my soul, continues on to the recognition that all of this play about being upset is a sham, and then returns to the real desire I had that morning that my shoes were really as watertight as my soul.  There are few things that are worse than sitting in wet socks on the subway. Later, on my way back home from work, my feet were of course subject again to a soaking.

The poem is structured in three stanzas of ten verses each, with a single verse indicating the time this all took place, and concludes with two verses about my desire that my feet were dry. The aesthetics are not especially complex, and I did not have a lot of trouble writing this. 

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