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I’ve found the water by the tamarisk mirage that wavers at its edge,

saltcedar shadows that dance like dark naiads on river mud.

Thirst has brought me from the canyon, the thud of footsteps

heavy as the pulse of my heart, blood thick and dark with drought.

As I’ve walked, the sounds have compounded, echoed,

the footsteps manifold till I am a procession of starved selves

trudging weighted with need of water, as if in that softly turning surface,

I’d see somebody I know.

Wading in, the water leaves slow kisses like papercuts

along the places scarred by the teeth of the overland:

the sun that’s claimed the prayers from my mouth, the coyote

that have come at night, gibbering in the voices of my childhood friends.

As Tantalus, I bend to drink but when I open my mouth to the current,

find there is a deeper heat, a deeper thirst that needs it,

that there is surely a divine equilibrium

between the riverwater and the blood in my veins

which will make my body sing, a belonging of the silt

to the hollows of my lungs, my heart.

Cami Rothmuller is an undergraduate at UC Davis studying English with a concentration in Creative Writing, as well as a minor in Entomology. Though her poetry focuses on various themes— from nature and insects to intimacy and trauma— the most consistent element is an emphasis on reverence, a sense of secular worship.

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