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This article is taken from PN Review 252, Volume 46 Number 4, March - April 2020.

3. ‘Ode to the Water Molecule’
Gregory O'Brien
Gregory O’Brien, Ode to the Water Molecule, 2019 (ink and acrylic on paper, 765 x 560mm)

Promiscuous, by some accounts,
or simply playing the field –
     indecisive, yet so decidedly
yourself, you are

all these things: ice flow,
cloud cover,
     bend of river,
crystalline structure

on an aeroplane window, fire-
bucket or drop
in the ocean, dissolver of a morning’s
     tablets or

mountain range. We envy you
your irresolution,
          the way you get along
with yourself, as glacier
     or humidity of

an overheated afternoon. A glass
of pitch-black water
               drunk at night.
Catchment and run-off. Water,
         we allow you

your flat roof and rocky bed
but there are also
          tricks we have taught you:
papal fountain, water
feature, liquid chandelier and
     boiling jug. It is, however,
                 your own mind

you make up, adept as you are
          – ‘the universal solvent’ –
at both piecing together
and tearing apart. With or

without us, you find your own
structure, an H and two O’s
                    in the infinity

of your three-sidedness, your
     triangulation, at once trinity
and tricycle. Two oars
and a dinghy, rowed.

Colourless, but for
‘an inherent hint of blue’,
     molecule in which
we are made soluble, the sum
of ...

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