Thinking About Diana Calf-Deep in Cool Water by Alison Cornell

Thinking about Diana calf-deep in cool water, her
Neck hairs suddenly on edge. Foot balanced
On a jagged stone. Blinding rage out of nowhere.

I’ve stood in mountain streams so cold my ankles throbbed.
I’ve felt the world compress down to the delicate slip of surface tension.
I’ve seen part of my body warped by water, detached from itself.

I feel watched all the time. Eyes are always on me; 
Across the street, down the platform, out of the passing bus.
My own dark eyes size me up, reflected in windows.

To have a moment unobserved--what a blessing! An instant
Where awareness sharpens into the feel of crisp water.
The water bites all eyes shut.

I’ve had mountainous rage, too.
Rage that bit my cheeks to bleeding. Rage that loosed 
Wild hounds that transformed into stomach-churning regret.

My God! The woods--
So quiet. Every sunlit leaf suspended above is a gift.
Shimmering beetles dancing along the shore. The deer are still.

A long, humid day climbing mountain trails, careful to save
The drinking water. You hear the stream first. Then you stop, sit, 
Peel off your hot, damp socks and plunge in.

You are alone, no eyes can touch you. God help the eyes that try. 


Alison Cornell is a poet, video essayist, and nonprofit development coordinator. She lives in Philadelphia, PA with a calico cat and an aquatic snail. Her video work airs on public access television and some of it lives online at