Simple Thoughts on History and Water

At the edge of the ocean, I think I’m safe as I watch death shimmering before me.

The ocean is not death; it’s life, the primordial soup of life.

But it would be my death, a few dozen meters out in the open waters.

I can’t swim for long, not even when the brine keeps me afloat.

The sun would parch my lips, my eyelids, my eyeballs,

My tongue would swell, my throat would close,

I’d be extinguished in a day, even if

None of those flesh-eating things—sharks, eels, jellyfish—happened to me.


At the edge of history, I think I’m safe as I watch death shimmering before me.

History is not death; it’s life, the whole of life, from the primordial soup on.

But it would’ve been my death, a few dozen decades into the past.

I wouldn’t have been alive for long, not even if my mother had been a rich woman.

Childhood diseases, a broken tooth, a burst appendix,

A cut with a rusty nail, the bite of a rabid mouse,

I’d have been extinguished sooner or later, even if

None of those flesh-killing things—a man with a gun, childbirth, a fire—happened to me.


Ocean and history, both deadly beautiful nouns.

Water and iron, the most common things in the universe.

Out of them, the rest of life was forged on earth,

The rules of the game established.


In the beginning, there lived my ancestors,

Small beings with dark eyes and clenched jaws,

Who crawled on the shores and dwelled in caves,

Who dug up the earth, threw in the seeds, and lay down in their graves.

Each one of them a winner, who passed on precious genes.

Their legs marched in formation to wars.

Their arms carried rocks from the quarry.

Their hands felled trees and built bridges.

Their ears listened to the words of the prophets.

Their voices echoed the stories.


They were fighters.

I’m not a fighter.

I would’ve been drowned in Round One.

Instead, I’m alive today

And I write the stories.

15 thoughts on “Simple Thoughts on History and Water

  1. Roxana:
    Your posts always generate more stories… the fabric of time… the bravery of writers… the primordial soup… soon we’ll all be ancestors!

  2. Roxana, This is the first thing I am reading today on the birthday of my daughter and the anniversary of my marriage and I feel it marks the day with a grand sense of time, our place in time, (your place in time, of course), where we have come from, what we are doing here, risk and story. I want everyone I know to read this.

    • I don’t presume to say that I know how to write poetry. I know that poems are complicated pieces of art – something I would claim to write only after trying my hand for a few years. What I have here is very similar to writing practice. Thoughts without paragraphs. One liners.

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