James Bertolino



This morning the ice came.
Everything fresh
and new––but don’t be fooled.

Water is old.

When it’s just cold enough,
ice will enclose everything––pebbles,
twigs, ripe fruit and all
we’ve built––in a brilliant casing.

This is the way water memorizes
what is temporary and
in danger. Water carries the blueprint
for what has been made,

what is missing.

At this moment, in the profound depths
of the Pacific, water is remembering
a perfect model of Hiroshima
in April of 1944.

It is glowing with the pink
of plum blossoms.


“Blueprint” is reprinted from Finding Water, Holding Stone


James Bertolino’s tenth volume of poetry, Finding Water, Holding Stone, was published in 2009 by Cherry Grove Collections. His 26 poetry collections include books from Carnegie Mellon University Press and the Quarterly Review of Literature Award Series at Princeton University. He’s received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, and Book-of-the-Month Club, as well as the Jeanne Lohmann Poetry Prize for Washington State poets. His teaching includes Cornell University, University of Cincinnati, Western Washington University and Willamette University. He served as a judge for the 2009, 2010 and 2011 American Book Awards in poetry. He lives outside Bellingham.

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