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A Drink of Water

A tactic for keeping us near, not for staying awake.

Still we’d call, Go to sleep! – joke that the well 

was dry. We don’t see our mistakes right away. 

I sent his father pushing his whole self:

sleep-walker, his father's father, laggard

pilgrim.  From across the hall, we heard a small boy drink 

as if he meant to teach us how it’s done: exaggerated 

gulps, or blessing of the throat, or baptism; the sinking 

thrill of water filling his bony frame, or drowning him. 

And then the playful gasp between each self-immersion.

The antics of the unconverted. Had he said 

his  prayers? His sadness at the question, his sour 

objection. One more. One more dog-weary tour

and prayer was this encounter of his thirst with ours.   


Copyright © 2019  M. B. McLatchey. All rights reserved.

Published in The Banyan Review, Fall 2023.

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