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A Poetics of Water


Creek celebration! I just received my full examiners’ reports and – once I’ve fixed some typos and commas – I’ll be a (medically useless) doctor with bells on! And this is my thanks…

In the 5 1/2 years I spent writing ‘A Poetics of Water: Cross-Cultural Ecopoetics in a Crisis World’ and having Sol and moving house, um 18 times, the truth – the preverbal sound-sense of language, energy, blood, water – came to the surface.

Belonging and roots took on different multidimensional and cross-generational qualities, breath became water intermingling with the lush waters of the body (released in desire, pain, sacredness) and the quiet volatile vulnerable water spaces of the world. Water became a flexing memory house.

Carrying an ocean within me when pregnant brought new understanding and questioning through my blood stream- whispers from my ancestors, the direct requests in dream time, poetry time, butoh time, from women with brown and thick-veined hands to hear and speak their pain so it could release or transport through me into something honoured.

I heard the water and the blood and tried to speak with it, for it, let it speak through me. Even when writing my chapter on El Quipu Menstrual, though, and the sacredness of blood and Andean glacial meltwater, I struggled and thrashed in an academic container, unable sometimes to produce the work I heard humming in me. Work that spoke of relation across cultural boundaries and the borderline of human and nonhuman, this dimension and others, compartmentalised ways of loving and free/disoriented ways.

The inextricable entanglement of language body and water that leads us to remember that words matter and that words are deeply part of the pulsing intelligent matter of the world.

That the water is in our blood, our love spaces, our perpetually returning and always reopening self-patterns.

Then the poetry came through it. I couldn’t put that in my PhD – the howling Canadian snow, the nightdress frozen into the log cabin wall, the desert sands, the prison camp, the rifle-butt shattered hip, the temple, the black waxy cord of the kettle like a snake in my Granny’s kitchen, her eyes. I couldn’t speak of what rose in my own marriage – the repeated lifetimes of embattlement. Blood rising blood releasing. Male and female at war within a political and personal container of separation.

Everywhere I have been these past few years to sit and meet with water, it has so gently whispered to me, revealed its own processes to me so I could understand. The water has showed me recognition and acceptance that THIS lifetime we found each other again in order to be the bodies through which an energy lastly walks on its way to transmutation. To reweave a love that has no other worship than itself. No other duty than itself. No other pain that that which it chooses.

So this is my gratitude, my honouring of my supervisors, particularly my initially inscrutable male professor who led me into the study and remembering of female Shamanism (WHY?!) through avant-garde and erasure poetry and in that moment reoriented the course of my life. This is honour to my mother who continues to watch me leave her and walk right into the fire and water, to my comrade of the heart, Joan Fleming, who witnesses every stumble tense and release and just says ‘more’ even when she says ‘less.’

This is honour to my husband who sat in narrow corridors with me listening to obtuse poetics performances, waited outside the library for hours on end when we had one car, held me while crying and joyful. Who also pushed me to the edge of fury so I could find my strength, who hears and sees the processes of the natural world like no one else I’ve known. And who unravels into water knowing that, like expression, like desire, it is part of his constellation of needs.

Language-body-water-LOVE. ‘Concordance’ – poetry that shares the interwoven healing of my grandparent’s marriage and mine and that was undertaken AS a healing – through word-working threaded through with Rahanni is on its way now. And Sol is the light in all of it. ✨

Thank YOU for reading this and for sharing the magical water spaces and thought spaces of this world with me. I don’t take it lightly that you allow me space in your life even for a moment. So much gratitude for you. x

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