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27 March 2019updated 12 Jul 2021 3:52am

A Robot Invents the Orphic Puddle

By Tim Liardet

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

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as if I am suspended in air and space

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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 27 Mar 2019 issue of the New Statesman, Guilty