She was fire, I was water
And we made sweet condensation
The day, the month we met.
She turned me into steam,
Pure steam, in April, no less.
I quenched her raging thirst (I won’t forget)
We drank each other’s smoke
And sparked up rum and cokes
I took her fizz for fire
She took my ironic dampness for jokes.
All was elemental
And if she burned the bread I called it toast
And if water weighed her down we just got soaked
I did not try to put her out
She did not try to make me burn.
We’re not so different, said the fire,
One day to the water
I could see this month ignite,
Make a bonfire of our lives
We could sit there like a house on fire
Extinguished and set alight at the same time
I flowed around the idea and warmed to it
So I moved in and every day
I put the fire out that she had made
And every night she blazed
The oases that my love had made.
Until one evening Fire said,
While water brushed his teeth,
“Turn off the tap”.
And water, being fairly fluid in his actions
Did in fact for five years turn off that tap
In front of her at least, but behind her back…
I let it run,
let it go
let it flow
And it was not until the 1000th time
That something clicked
And the millioneth drip overflowed the empty sink
And I responded to her claim:
“We’re not so same.” I said.
She, understandably, had not consumed the context
As we’d just been talking about a friend in massive debt
Because of negative equity.
But now the tap was on,
“I’ll brush the teeth in this relationship
Or I’ll be damned!” Water flowed.
The tap was gushing now, the mirror fogged -
The drains were leaking back up out the bog
“For one thing, fire’s not a thing –
Me? I’m hydrogen and oxygen too
But you? You’re no thing, no thing at all.”
“What?” She said.
I couldn’t understand
How she didn’t understand.
I flowed right on down… right on down to land –
I was seeking earth, not fire, earth!
I’d been seeking earth all my life
And not realized until tonight – that night – tonight.
“And for a second thing – Fire’s so loud!
Crackling! Always with the constant crackle
Always eating, heating or causing hassle
Everything’s a hazard or an all-consuming passion
If we just kept calm, it could all be fine
But your fiery fingers always dialing 999.
“Right.” She said. “I see where you’re going here –
You’re saying I’m like fire – FIRE?!”
I said, Jeez we’re 3 pages in already,
I was hoping that much was clear.”
“FIRE?” She bellowed.
“Fire?” She scorched.
“Murder, he wrote.” I said.
“What are you talking about?” She asked.
“Just a poem I’m writing – it was a funny line, trust me.”
“Says Mr. Water?” She says, looking over my shoulder,
“I wouldn’t say that.”
“You might,” I say. “Anyway, Mr Water, what do you mean?”
“I don’t know, you wrote it, perhaps you can tell me.”
“You meant, by what I wrote, that water’s not known for jokes,
It’s too clear and see through to cause a face poke”
“And that’s the best water-related joke that you know?”
“No. But you just remember who is writing the poem.” I say,
Expecting a laugh.
Then she apologized and very humbly gave me the floor.
After (storming off upstairs and slamming the door and) pointing out
That all water does is sit around
And weigh things down
Making clothes darker and heavier
Surrounding everything with its slowly moulding love
And rather than consuming it up
Firing it up
Sparking it up
Burning and blazing ‘n
Combusting it up!
On what it loves
Which is down
And weighs it down with love
Envelopping it from sides and above
Surrounding it from five sides
And leaving only one way out for its victim –
I thought around it while she fried herself in perspiration
And I could see how she was not wrong
And I could see how she was not right
For I could see that I clearly was water
And I could see all sides – “I can see.” I said,
And should have left it there, “everyside of what you say –
I can see everything but your true… bottom.
Now when fire alights on bottom,
No thought can put it out
So we rejoin the action
An unspecified –but quite long- time later.
And when the steam settles,
Not much has changed.
The conversation resumes, Ground-hog style,
Ground-hog style, a year later, in a different flat.
“At least I have some substance!”
And again comes the tide I cannot hold back –
“At least I am a thing, I can be happy, I can be,
I’m not just a process, just an action, with an appetite for trees.
I’m not afraid of silence either.”
“Afraid of it? You saturate it!
You smother everything in silence
That’s why you like the snow –
I like the kind of weather that makes
Strangers take off all their clothes.
I like the crackle of the campfire
I like the chatter of friendly teeth in need of heat
I am ambitious, I need the next thing to consume
And yes I like being high and aiming higher –
With you it’s always down down down.
And when she said those magic words
I took the heat that I had heard
And channeled it like she could never do
Being a process and not a thing like me.
Channels are made of things directing process
I took her heat and channeled it
And all because
Those magic words
No one likes a love that is damp she said
And so I made her fire wet
And all the while, during, after
We lay and drank in pools of laughter
We were liquid fire flowing
Every night the bed an ocean
The weather inside, hmm… snowing
Warm snowballs of love
Snowflakes of love
Snowflakes of fire
“Higher” She scorched, “ take me higher!”
“No you go down –“ I heard it spoken
And just like that the spell was broken.
I rippled, reflecting the ceiling for a while
In a silence even I could not contain
She processed the surroundings, the curtains, the rain
And burned them back to ash again.
An hour passed.
I was betting that she
Would internally combust
Before I drowned myself
To death in silence
Another hour passed
Slowly. Not fast,
12hrs passed in no time at all for me
In fact, I only awoke because my ears were burning me.
“Have you been asleep all this time?” they sizzled.
“Sorry,” I said, before I’d even had a chance
To remember the argument
And with that rather C-list magic word,
The matter was moderated, thirst quenched, problem passed.
Water sat there boiling.
Fire fumed there drenched.
“I’m not sure I can do this much longer.”
Said water to fire.
“I feel I am spreading myself too thinly on you.”
“You are.” Said fire.
“I don’t like being spread thin.
I see less of the world reflected
In my shrinking puddle.
“Light up my life again!” She burned.
“I can not.”
“Will not is cannot.”
“Cannot is not will not.”
“Cannot is not will not does not make sense.”
“Agree to differ?”
draining away from me.”
“You’re going up
And with that, one morning, they both woke up.