A Robot Invents the Orphic Puddle

A new poem by Tim Liardet.

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After the shovels of precipitation

had doused the heat that broke the gauge    

the rainstorm relinquishes all but its last

offer of water, this shrivelled piece of lake:

over its steamy skin of brilliance I crane

as if I am suspended in air and space

and seem to be thirty, no, forty metres tall:


among the tall buildings, I think I can say

a reflection is the wavefront that refracts

at the point where two media meet and gaze

at one another in a surface tension.

But what makes the water shrink or spread

and then stop? It may be that (… though

here I seem to pause in hesitation)


the forces of attraction between them make

the puddle grip road or road the puddle

that steams with a picture of light. Oh look 

at the perpendicularity of my legs:

my boots are huge and the sky is all blue

and I have loops of cloud arranging and tying

like flowers in my electromotive hair.

Tim Liardet is the author of ten collections including“The World Before Snow”. “Arcimboldo’s Bulldog: New and Selected Poems” was published by Carcanet in 2018.

This article appears in the 29 March 2019 issue of the New Statesman, Guilty

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