• Dr.Pragya Suman

Poem of the Week

Ephemeral Stream


By: Elizabeth Willis


This is the way water

thinks about the desert.

The way the thought of water

gives you something

to stumble on. A ghost river.

A sentence trailing off

toward lower ground.

A finger pointing

at the rest of the show.


I wanted to read it.

I wanted to write a poem

and call it "Ephemeral Stream"

because you made of this

imaginary creek

a hole so deep

it looked like a green eye

taking in the storm,

a poem interrupted

by forgiveness.


It's not over yet.

A dream can spend

all night fighting off

the morning. Let me

start again. A stream

may be a branch or a beck,

a crick or kill or lick,

a syke, a runnel. It pours

through a corridor. The door

is open. The keys

are on the dashboard.


Elizabeth Willis is an American poet who was born in Bahrain and she taught in several universities. She is a contributor in the A Norton Anthology/ Postmodern American Poetry, edited by Paul Hoover. Willis invented a new type of hybrid Late Lyric which talks about the experimental lyric. She opposed the reductionist rhetoric that keeps language poetry on one end and drives lyrics in the confessional, epiphanic category on the other end. Willis believes that contemporary lyric overlaps with rather than opposes, the post language writing.

Willis was traveling with her friends in the hills near Ucross, Wymog. She saw streams etched in the arid landscapes. Water rarely flows through them, coming, only seasonally in intermittent phase. This inspires her to write Ephemeral Stream–transistor stream.

Moss layered creek where water comes occasionally is manifested in the metaphor Green Eye. Ephemeral stream is like a dream which resists continuity by caging in a dream, opposing the continuity of night in day. Here we see Willis uses multiple synonymous for the transitory, short metaphors like rill, beck, runnel, kill or lick.

The last three lines are mystical “It pours through a corridor. The door is open. The keys are on the dashboard.”

The Corridor is a fragmented short, separate category in the whole that reflects short etched things residing in the periphery of continuity. Things are not alien and apart despite of short and transient nature.

Here we see a sleek and slim, stylistic Lyric by Elizabeth Willis.


Dr. Pragya Suman





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