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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

Wake: Up to Poetry

"The act of poetry is a rebel act."

Poem of the Week: “A Glass of Water” by Conor O’Callaghan

Water Glass and Jug by Jean Siméon Chardin, from Wikipedia Commons

Conor O’Callaghan focuses on unexpected objects and places his new collection Live Streaming. He writes about plums, swimming pools, and trailer parks in an effort to change the familiar into the unfamiliar. In this poem, “A Glass of Water,” O’Callaghan transforms the simple act of hydration into a meditation on desire, distance, and time. The water here never fulfills its biological purpose, it instead distorts the colors and objects nearby. The beauty of this poem, O’Callaghan proves, is not in the act of drinking the water, but rather the feelings and insights that arise in the process of bringing it to your lips.

A Glass of Water

I pour a glass of water for myself.
I watch what greys it gathers from the room.
It’s not to drink. I want the wanting of
a glass and water sleep can come between.
The glass of water sits there half the year.
Its level drops. Its bubbles bloom and burst.
I get the glass of water’s hardly you,
and still I rise to mouthing arid toasts:
to hunger, thirst; to bliss that goes without;
to love abstained, the lull until the flood;
to near enough to touch it hurts, and not;
all windblown wishes, thistles in a field.
I tilt the glass of water to my lips.
I hold like this, before the wanting stops.

Conor O’Callaghan, from Live Streaming (2018)


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