What The Water Took: 7 Torahs And A Piano by Miriam Sagan

What The Water Took: 7 Torahs And A Piano

torah of morning
of noon
of dusk
of midnight
of moonrise
of daytime gibbous moon
flood water

torah of terror
of anarchy
of forgiveness
fire in the water
a dog
a child
bent street signs

torah which unrolls
the story of Noah
an ark
a dove
a raven
streets as rivers
leviathan

a house
your house
a house
caught in a tree
the army corps of engineers
a pumping station
a levee

torah of glass bottles
dangling blue glass hands
a message
SOS
hope
despair
a twisted menorah

torah of brass bands
coronets and horns
twisted shofar
blowing not air
but water
clarinet set with rubies now mute
torah of the broken flute

torah of Jacob
wrestling with the angel
who cheats to win
God’s lie, the rainbow sign
(no more water
the fire next time)
words float away

and the piano of glass
of sand, strings plucked
by fish
how the water took even
our idea of land
and in drowned sleep
spirit moved on the face of this deep.


Photograph by Helen Exner

30 thoughts on “What The Water Took: 7 Torahs And A Piano by Miriam Sagan

  1. There really is quite a number of water-based disasters in the world and I like how you have approached this with this poem. More than just material is being washed away but also ideas about what is and one feels as if stable ideas are also being washed away. What seems to be fixtures such as houses, road signs, etc, which seem sturdy and being knocked off and carried away by water, a force that can’t be negotiated with. The last stanza with piano is very vivid demostration of forcibly washing away of one’s idea of stability and peace, that’s how i feel when I read it anyway. 🙂 A piano is a man-made thing that one plays on a peaceful evening, and the image of that being ruined seems to show how things can be taken away and a situation changes drastically. Thanks for the poem and the thoughts from it.

  2. Flowing water is a powerful force of nature … nothing is safe … on one hand it destroys, and on another it can provide tranquility … much to consider of the benefits and the detriments of Mother Nature’s moods. Well done!

  3. Devastating floods like Katrina seem to leave most of us speechless, but you put it into words; about the destruction and all that was lost. “words float away”
    Very well done!

  4. Floods wash in, wash out. The water spreads toxic and nontoxic wastes across the land. Water settles in some areas for days or months, letting things stain and rot. Where floods happen life changes. The scars will forever remain.
    Your poem is powerful and shows what water can do. Sad and haunting, and well written.

  5. I like how you piece together a cohesive message with a lot of images. I really like all of the musical images and the drowning of music. “Torah of terror” is also very ominous and cool word play. I enjoyed reading.

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