Water Has No Memory ~ Scott Cameron

Standing in sand a physicist once

told me that water has no memory.

The movement of waves a continuous

forgetting and forgetting

Of the feel of rock, and children’s feet,

and wind’s embrace, and fish sloughing scales—


surface tension no shape at all,

simply a fragment of a thought

too miniscule to be remembered,

like those songs my grandmother sang

for an entire youth but despaired of

as her mind wrinkled before death.


And once, a Turkish friend told me

that forest fires were algorithmically beautiful—

the mathematics of combustion, the eating of a tree,

the numbers patterning

behind heat and light ending

in the faulty scrapbook of charred remains.


I remembered I had seen mountains black with night

Alive with fire’s children,

the leftovers of some young boy’s 4th of July

turned inferno,

and oddly I thought I caught echoes

of Wallace Stevens’s death mothering beauty.


I asked a lawyer, once, if God could be surprised,

if he paused over Gaelic

spoken at a farmer’s market in downtown Cleveland,

or raised eyebrows at people farming potatoes

in fields close enough to hear the lazy grace of icebergs.

The lawyer responded as a blue-grass fiddler,


“God cannot be surprised, but in his restlessness,

he tries anyway: the myriad orchids and sea creatures,

all created in a vain attempt to gasp.

How else can you explain all the beetles in the world?”

I can’t explain them—the beetles or the eons

Without startled laughter.


So I imagine God gasping as you do when water is cold enough;

the sudden memory of feeling what you had forgotten.