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The Boiling Water

 A serious moment for the water is 
 when it boils
And though one usually regards it
 merely as a convenience
To have the boiling water
 available for bath or table
Occasionally there is someone
around who understands
The importance of this moment
 for the water—maybe a saint,
Maybe a poet, maybe a crazy 
 man, or just someone
 temporarily disturbed
With his mind "floating"in a
 sense, away from his deepest
Personal concerns to more
 "unreal" things.
A serious moment for the island is when its trees Begin to give it shade, and another is when the ocean washes Big heavy things against its side.
One walks around and looks at the island But not really at it, at what is on it, and one thinks, It must be serious, even, to be this island, at all, here.
Since it is lying here exposed to the whole sea.
All its Moments might be serious.
It is serious, in such windy weather, to be a sail Or an open window, or a feather flying in the street.
Seriousness, how often I have thought of seriousness And how little I have understood it, except this: serious is urgent And it has to do with change.
You say to the water, It's not necessary to boil now, and you turn it off.
It stops Fidgeting.
And starts to cool.
You put your hand in it And say, The water isn't serious any more.
It has the potential, However—that urgency to give off bubbles, to Change itself to steam.
And the wind, When it becomes part of a hurricane, blowing up the beach And the sand dunes can't keep it away.
Fainting is one sign of seriousness, crying is another.
Shuddering all over is another one.
A serious moment for the telephone is when it rings.
And a person answers, it is Angelica, or is it you.
A serious moment for the fly is when its wings Are moving, and a serious moment for the duck Is when it swims, when it first touches water, then spreads Its smile upon the water.
A serious moment for the match is when it burst into flame.
Serious for me that I met you, and serious for you That you met me, and that we do not know If we will ever be close to anyone again.
Serious the recognition of the probability That we will, although time stretches terribly in between.

Poem by Kenneth Koch
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