from Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude - 3 Poems by Ross Gay (2021)

3/23/2021, Auer Hall, Indiana University, Bloomington IN
Andrew Forsythe, bass voice
Daixuan Ai, piano

Text:

ode to drinking water from my hands
by Ross Gay


which today, in the garden,
I’d forgotten
I’d known and more
forgotten
I’d learned and was taught this
by my grandfather
who, in the midst of arranging
and watering
the small bouquets
on mostly the freshest graves
saw my thirst
and cranked the rusty red pump
bringing forth
from what sounded like the gravelly throat
of an animal
a frigid torrent
and with his hands made a lagoon
from which he drank
and then I drank
before he cranked again
making of my hands, now,
a fountain in which I can see
the silty bottom
drifting while I drink
and drink and
my grandfather waters the flowers
on the graves
among which are his
and his wife’s
unfinished and patient, glistening
after he rinses the bird shit
from his wife’s
and the pump exhales
and I drink
to the bottom of my fountain
and join him
in his work.