Great blue heron on rocky coast

One Poem by Alison Mandaville

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Saving Water

  1. Most of the water on earth is kept in rocks. Is rocks. Chemically different. Changeable, released over eons.
  2. Before the tide turns, in front of me, a heron stabs a fingerling. Gulps it, wriggling.
  3. Water moves with the moon, and gentle slips of earth, plates balanced below the frantic soil.
  4. Someone is burning something in the hills.
  5. On the phone, the California State Water Agency rebate clerk is impatient. Why haven’t you finished replacing your lawn? I lie: Money. Then the truth: And my mother has been dying.
  6. Drip irrigation cannot replenish the aquifer.
  7. Well, she says, when do you expect to be done?
  8. The question I want to ask my mother.
  9. Driftwood marks a waterline. Premeditated. Unsigned by the moon.
  10. The Water Teacher takes a sip, listens.




Alison MandavilleAlison Mandaville’s poetry and translations from Azerbaijani have appeared lately in Superstition, Grub Street, World Literature Today, and Two Lines. Her recently completed book of poetry explores human relationships to water. She teaches future teachers at Fresno State.

Header photo by TamasV, courtesy Shutterstock. Photo of Alison Mandaville by Wendy Call. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.