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POETRY Children Near the Water “Always there is much more happening than we can bear.” Tomas Transtromer When we wake in the warm tent the children are already playing near the water. Their sleeping bags are like empty wombs with silky red lining. From here they might be anyone’s children, or the earth’s, one dark, one fair, one girl, one boy. It’s been a long generation in my family since any of us drowned. Back then it was the most beloved son whose body washed ashore on the sands of Lake Michigan. How strange it is that water is both life and death to us. I think of my father as a boy holding his mother all night long as she wept. Daisies In the democracy of daisies every blossom has one vote. The question on the ballot is Does he love me? If the answer’s wrong I try another, a little sorry about the petals piling up around my-shoes. Bees are loose in the fields where daisies wait and hope, dreaming of the kiss of a proboscis. We can’t possibly understand what makes us such fools. I blame the June heat and everything about him. Connie Wanek The face of the water changes under the moving sun. How stiff I am after sleeping on the ground. No life left in last night’s fire, just soft gray ash and two soiled marshmallow sticks. Dew shines on a strand of spider silk that binds a tall pine to the earth like a guy wire. I think I know what it must have felt like to be the spider, dangling in a lake breeze on the fragile filament drawn from its own belly. The children hardly notice as we join them. They’re so fresh, like spruce buds in May. Their feet are still round instead of long, like smooth paws. How calm the water is today, just the smallest ripples wandering at the whim of the wind, as many going out as there are coming in. Connie Wanek was born in Wisconsin in 1952. Since 1990 she has lived in Duluth, Minnesota with her husband and two children, where she works at the Duluth Public Library and helps her husband in his business renovating old houses. Her first book, Bonfire, was published in 1997 by New Rivers Press, and was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award. She has published her work in many journals including Poetry and The Virginia Quarterly Review, and, most recently, The Atlantic Monthly. Naomi Shihab Nye 6/22/01 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21