Poetry Friday: The 3 a.m. Request for Water

h1 March 19th, 2010 by jules

This poem comes from Deborah Garrison’s 2007 collection of poetry entitled The Second Child (Random House). This is not re-printed with permission. I hope you all won’t have to visit me in Poetry Jail. The poems are funny, tender, and honest, and some of them send goosebumps up my arms. My commentary this morning will not go beyond that. I simply leave the poem for you to enjoy.

“A Drink in the Night” by Deborah Garrison:

My eyes opened
at once for you were standing
by my side, you’d padded
in to ask for a drink in the night.

The cup was—-where?
Fallen down, behind?
Churning in the dishwater, downstairs?
Too tired to care, I cupped
my hand and tipped it
to you. You stared, gulped,
some cold down your chin.
Whispered, “Again!”

O wonder. You’d no idea
I could make a cup.
You’ve no idea what
I can do for you, or hope to.
You watched, curious and cool,
as I cupped some up
to my own lips, too,
then asked,
“Why does it taste better?”

The Poetry Friday round-up is being held this morning over at Some Novel Ideas.

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11 comments to “Poetry Friday: The 3 a.m. Request for Water”

  1. Love the poem. I remember your mentioning your wee ones getting up at night asking for water. Sweet! Deborah Garrison is new to me — I’d love to read more of her poetry now.


  2. Aww, sweet. Pretty much anything tastes better straight from Mama’s hands, though.


  3. That is a sweet poem. I don’t think my husband’s mom ever offered her hands, but my husband has recollections re the difference between upstairs faucet water and kitchen faucet water, and you can guess which tasted better at night.

    Hey, I’d visit you in Poetry Jail, but I don’t think we’ll have to. My understanding, incomplete as it is, is that as long as you mention the name of the writer and publisher, a poem or two is fine.


  4. Thanks, you guys. Especially Jeannine. I’m so very not clear on all those guidelines. But I hope ONE OF YOU will visit me in Poetry Jail, if I go. Slip me a snack, too, please.

    That reminds me: Eisha and I once did a freelance writing assigment for the Poetry Foundation (for their web site). We had this conference call with an editor and some Poetry Foundation person. (Precise, huh? But I can’t remember her title.) Anyway, we were on hold for the longest time on this conference call, ’cause there was this “emergency,” and Eisha and I were laughing so hard, wondering what a poetry emergency could be?

    (In case it’s not clear, too, I tell that story with great reverence; it just occurred to me I might come across as disrespectful. Maybe you had to be there!)


  5. Lovely poem — love the way it speaks calmly, ostensibly to the child… but way loudly to the adults reading it!

    I worry about Poetry Jail all the time. Also Music Jail, and Movie Jail, and Art and Photography Jails. When I can, I try to link to some other (legitimate) source already online — so if challenged, I can always say, “They did it first!” Mostly I just hope that the authors (poets, musicians, filmmakers, etc.) will recognize that I’m trying to do something for them as well as for site visitors.

    Probably helps that my site (like yours) isn’t a money-making enterprise, too. I mean, it would be nice if some suitably dazzled some patron just showed up, waving hundred-dollar bills in my direction. But even then it wouldn’t classify as a commercial enterprise.

    (Er, right?)


  6. John, yes, I get that. Your site is such a wonderful place to visit that, if you ever get sent to Poetry Jail, Music Jail, Movie Jail, Art Jail, or Photography Jail, I will work very hard to get you out, as well as organize the Free John advocacy group.

    In this case, I have nothing to link to. No one else, as I saw it, has posted it online. But, right, I certainly make no money off this site. Wouldn’t even want to. Wouldn’t be the same place, if I did. (Famous last words, maybe? But I doubt it.)


  7. p.s. My favorite lines are “you have no idea what / I can do for you, or hope to.” That moment suddenly gives the poem such depth.


  8. Love that poem! I need to look for that book. I think you are OK posting one poem from a collection as long as you recommend the book. But then again I imagine that a “Poetry emergency” would include rummaging up bail money for folks like us that blur the lines…


  9. What a lovely poem.

    As to the “poetry emergency,” I believe poems are people, too. If they want, they, too, can have an emergency.

    Laura Evans


  10. That’s pretty.

    I’m thirsty.
    (I am often thirsty.)

    P.S. My Kicks will come perhaps midday tomorrow, as I have to leave early in the morning.


  11. Motherhood. (Teacher-hood, too.)
    “You’ve no idea what
    I can do for you, or hope to.”

    And the taste of water. We drank out of the hose all summer long and it was cold and clean and good back then.


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