Poem of the Week | June 02, 2009

This week we are proud to feature “Melt” by Lisa Williams, which appears in the current issue of The Missouri Review (32:1, 2009). Lisa Williams is the author of two books of poems, Woman Reading to the Sea (W.W. Norton, 2008) which won the 2007 Barnard Women Poets Prize, and The Hammered Dulcimer (Utah State University Press, 1998). She was awarded a Rome Prize in Literature by the Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004. Her poems have appeared in the Southwest Review, Poetry, the Cincinnati Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Measure, as well as in the Best American Erotic Poems: 1800 to Present. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, she is an associate professor of English at Centre College in Kentucky.

Water in all of its manifestations is a big interest of mine, whether frozen, trickling, or any phase in between. ‘Melt’ is my version of a worshipful ode: it attempts to depict a pinnacle of motion, transparency, and sound. (What poet wouldn’t want to move like water?)


If I could enter what I long for,
true coursing, blown North,

some passage I believe is fluid
without the stops of intellect,

I’d be a glacier disassembling
into liquid, icy grains

awash and running, freed
from rigid doubt into one bead

of travel, cold without pain,
removed from but akin

to others in a witless flux
of continuing, scrambled syntax

whose translation is diluted,
whose value is all go

uncontrived, arrow of happenstance,
inebriated flow,

and where I would be riding
would not be justified, there would be

no reason for it, I can tell you-
extemporary motion,

the going and the being gone
to sea.