A raindrop fell on my hand,
crafted from the Ganges and the Nile,
from the ascended frost of a seal’s whiskers,
from water in broken pots in the cities of Ys and Tyre.
On my index finger
the Caspian Sea isn’t landlocked,
and the Pacific flows meekly into the Rudava,
the one that flew in a cloud over Paris
in seventeen sixty four
on the seventh of May at three in the morning.
There are not enough lips to pronounce
your transient names, O water.
I would have to say them in every language
pronouncing all the vowels at once,
at the same time keeping silent—for the sake of a lake
that waited in vain for a name,
and is no longer on earth—as it is in the heavens,
whose stars are no longer reflected in it.
Someone was drowning; someone dying
called out for you. That was long ago and yesterday.
You extinguished houses; you carried them off
like trees, forests like cities.
You were in baptismal fonts and in the bathtubs of courtesans,
in kisses, in shrouds.
Eating away at stones, fueling rainbows.
In the sweat and dew of pyramids and lilacs.
How light all this is in the raindrop.
How delicately the world touches me.
Whenever wherever whatever has happened
is written on the water of Babel.