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Kenneth Koch - The Boiling Water

A serious moment for the water is 
 when it boils
And though one usually regards it
 merely as a convenience
To have the boiling water
 available for bath or table
Occasionally there is someone
around who understands
The importance of this moment
 for the water—maybe a saint,
Maybe a poet, maybe a crazy 
 man, or just someone
 temporarily disturbed
With his mind "floating"in a
 sense, away from his deepest
Personal concerns to more
 "unreal" things...

A serious moment for the island 
 is when its trees
Begin to give it shade, and
 another is when the ocean
Big heavy things against its side.
 One walks around and looks at
 the island
But not really at it, at what is on
 it, and one thinks,
It must be serious, even, to be this
 island, at all, here.
Since it is lying here exposed to 
 the whole sea.  All its
Moments might be serious.  It is
 serious, in such windy weather,
 to be a sail
Or an open window, or a feather
 flying in the street...

Seriousness, how often I have
 thought of seriousness
And how little I have understood
 it, except this: serious is urgent
And it has to do with change.  You
 say to the water,
It's not necessary to boil now,
 and you turn it off.  It stops
Fidgeting.  And starts to cool.  You
 put your hand in it
And say, The water isn't serious
 any more.  It has the potential,
However—that urgency to give
 off bubbles, to
Change itself to steam.  And the
When it becomes part of a
 hurricane, blowing up the 
And the sand dunes can't keep it 
Fainting is one sign of 
 seriousness, crying is another.
Shuddering all over is another

A serious moment for the
 telephone is when it rings.
And a person answers, it is
 Angelica, or is it you.

A serious moment for the fly is
 when its wings
Are moving, and a serious
 moment for the duck
Is when it swims, when it first
 touches water, then spreads
Its smile upon the water...

A serious moment for the match 
 is when it burst into flame...

Serious for me that I met you, and
 serious for you
That you met me, and that we do
 not know
If we will ever be close to anyone
 again.  Serious the recognition
 of the probability
That we will, although time
 stretches terribly in

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Added: Feb 27 2003 | Viewed: 3952 times | Comments and analysis of The Boiling Water by Kenneth Koch Comments (31)

The Boiling Water - Comments and Information

Poet: Kenneth Koch
Poem: The Boiling Water
Volume: The NY Review of Books 1/16/03 Vol L #1
Poem of the Day: May 11 2011

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