Poem by Ruth Z. Deming


This is about a sparkling water I purchased at the Shop-Rite, whose label reads: Cap may forcefully eject. Point away from face and people when opening. Product of Germany.

My nimble fingers
gilded in blood-red nails
bring you from the supermarket
to my kitchen
naturally sparkling wasser from the
underground pools
of your vast lands.

Beethoven once stood there
drank deeply
loved ceaselessly
memories spun like gold
into symphonies
rivaling the songbirds.

I twist off your cap
so like a head
and pour you,
waters of the Rhineland,
into my glass
merry bubbles
splash my face
asking forgiveness.

This is my toast
to the chastened people of Germany
we have all made mistakes
not quite like yours
but yes we are mortal
and allow the river of time
to staunch the grief unstoppable.

Is that you, Anne Frank
pushing a baby carriage
across Tristan’s fair land?
Your father beside you
hand on the arm of his honeycake
“We made it through, proud daughter,
and dwell together in a finer land.”

I’ve chosen this morning
to become one with my people
and yours
their skulls and shinbones
eroding in the pit
lending flavor and legend
to the underground spring.

I drink
trying to forgive my captors,
ordinary people
bewitched in gaunt times.

I hold up my glass:
so forgiving
a river of joy
the simplest wish of all:
I’m thirsty,
Here’s a glass of water.
Then drink
and let joy reign
my veins
as my people’s sorrow
flood me with every
I’m the German
And the Jew.


About Ruth Z. Deming

A former Ray’s Road Review contributor, Ruth Z. Deming is a psychotherapist and winner of a Leeway Grant for Creative Nonfiction and writes poetry, nonfiction, and fiction from her home in Willow Grove, PA, suburban Philadelphia. Her poetry has been published in journals including Metazen, River Poets, Bellowing Ark, and Innisfree.  Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Ray’s Road Review, Haggard and Halloo, Creative Nonfiction and Writing Disorder. A mental health advocate, she is director of New Directions Support Group –www.NewDirectionsSupport.org – of Abington, PA, for people and families affected by depression and bipolar disorder.