top of page

Pond Water

By Joan Mazza

My view from my office window shows

black water punctuated by small rafts

of filamentous algae, the last of the lotus

pads at the edges, facing south

like satellite dishes ready for the energy

of a signal on waves of light.

Beneath the surface, life goes on—

water snakes and snapping turtles, bluegill

and catfish, bull frogs and cricket frogs.

Magnified, every drop is alive with beings

swimming in this minestrone of evolved

forms. A few drops in a ladle, transferred

to a plastic container that once held red

sugar sprinkles for decorating cookies,

and I’m at my microscope, magnifying

the world, searching in my guides

and textbooks, scrolling online to find

the name of one amber oval doing

somersaults between grit and veined

fibers, amid smaller spheres that dash

and disappear. I recognize this one now,

appearing with each sample of from

the pond’s muddy, crayfished shore.

Not a paramecium, not amoeba, not

cyanobacterium, spirillum, or volvox. I see

you again and again. I recognize your gait,

your shape and size, the way you skate

across the field, flip to change directions.

Your waist is pinched a bit, your mouth

obscured. Please, tell me your Latin name.


Joan Mazza worked as a microbiologist and psychotherapist, and taught workshops on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam). Her poetry has appeared in Potomac Review, The Comstock Review, Prairie Schooner, Adanna Literary Journal, Slant, Poet Lore, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia, where she writes, reads, and cooks, surrounded by oak and beech trees.


bottom of page