The water seeping down for many years
Through spongy strata of the layered earth
Is death to swallow till its streams run clear
And soil strains out the drops that are impure

Through pores of charcoal and through hard-packed ash
It trickles slowly like a weeping sore
Past bone-stiff feathers and the fossil cache
The grief taint and the alkali absorb

The thirsty leave stale surface pools behind—
This liquid sorrow filtered through fine sand
Is purged of poison bitters as it sinks:
Diviners who dig deep enough will find
A wellspring bubbling in a drought-plagued land
And cooling water that is fit to drink.

—Laura Sheahen, Italy