Sam Pittman's work has appeared in such journals as Bellevue Literary Review, West Wind Review, Newfound: A Journal of Place, The Good Men Project, and Sixfold. He holds degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and UC Berkeley, and has received awards from the Academy of American Poets and the American Scandinavian Foundation. He lives in Pittsburgh, PA, where he teaches writing.

Sam Pittman

Mostly Water

A plunge can make us wet, make us suffer. Because I'm still does not mean I'm not there. In the dark, my voice is mostly water. It's like my hands are pooling with silver But the weight of wanting dries up my share. A drought can make us sweat, make us suffer. The maps I draw keep moving from pressure; The thorn and fell are swallowed like a prayer. In the dark, my voice is mostly water. The ice's chattermarks compose a grammar, A sound that fills our bodies up with air. A clause would make me live, make me suffer. This hollow breath's a muffled spell I'm under, My siren just a suffocated flare. In the dark, my voice is mostly water. Underneath, we're clearer when we stutter And we'd rather be cold than go elsewhere. Freezing doesn't mean we have to suffer. In the dark, my voice is mostly water.

"Mostly Water" is one of many attempts I've made to express the inability to render or represent past trauma in the medium of language. Moving in and out of solid and liquid forms, sometimes heavy and immobile, at other times fluid and fleeting, traumatic experience has an origin, a solid beginning, but then seems to change shape, re-form, even wear disguises as it is spoken and written. The villanelle as a form brings this issue to the forefront, forcing a structure to a seemingly unstable experience, a structure that moves from line to line while returning, holding a center through repetition even when spinning in and out from that center.

Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published monthly by Glass Poetry Press.
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