A story of the waters that hold me

Snow falling over the islands of Skarba and Mull

If I were to sit really still, allow my body to occupy only the smallest space of the earth’s skin, I am able to recall every body of water that I have ever been immersed in—the swimming pools, the oceans, rivers and streams, the pool in which I was baptised—rushed into like a lost sheep, even right here as I sit in this unfamiliar bath, in this unfamiliar house in water that is fragrant with lavender and rose geranium, I can name each one.

For one born under an earth sign, I am part fish, part ancient whale, barnacled with failures, redolent with courage.

If I were to keep my eyes closed, and this is difficult for me to do, being that I was given eyes that are hungry to see, I am able to mix the exact shade of mountain water as it leaves the deepest forest womb of the Tsitsikamma, and the waters of Port Alfred, and the tidal pool at Kalk Bay, and here, the brown of water rich with things that grow largely undisturbed, but for the wind, claiming the flora on the rocks.

Did you know that water can be the exact shade of lichen, and moss, and soil?

What is blue? Blue is the sky, forget-me-nots, and the sea-glass that I covet, but rarely find.

If I give you a piece of blue sea-glass, know that you live in a corner of my heart.

The story goes that I took my time to arrive in this world, five days long I travelled that long, sacred journey from watery womb to breathing air with my new lungs, perhaps even then knowing that water was safe, would always hold me weightless, suspended.

If I were to close my ears to the names of the gods that are being forced onto me, I can tell you the way to each holy well in which I have swam, the shallow waters turned into deep-calls-to-deep, where I forget the buildings I was forced to sit in, the churches I was given, the angry God, the sins of my father, and his father, where I had no choice but to reap what I hadn’t sown, and why would I choose to dwell in that desert?

Still, here I am—a body of water, the first miracle, held in mountain water, the names of my God hidden in every watery cell of my body.

I won’t tell you who they are, but if you will let me, I will show you the small, rich worlds that I live in, that they lead me to—the still waters.

I choose this.

© Liezel Graham 2021.

{Snow over the islands of Skarba and Mull earlier today, the water fills the earth in every way and we are held, all of us}

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