Water In My Blood



Water In My Blood
by Joanna Streetly
Women & Environment international magazine

I. Iere Village, Trinidad 1975

Wet season, dry season, cricket season, kite season
I knew their names, their signs
knew the smell of the first rain
danced in it with my brother
by the giant mahogany
shirts no longer damp with sweat
held to our skins by monsoon pressure.
Later, in hammocks
under the galvanised tin roof
we’d swing without words, the roar of rain
a blanket around us.

I remember bright women
stately as ships
water on their heads as they sailed my skyline.
Coming home from the standpipe
I would try and try to balance
anything—a grapefruit, a pebble,
trailing in their dust, chin up,
the thud of my ever-tumbling objects
barely audible
above the voices raised in song.

II. Vancouver Island 2006

My task takes me by boat at high tide
ducking beneath evergreen branches
moss in my hair, twigs.
The waterfall froths and spills its sweetness
into salt, pushes the boat away.
On days when I get it right
I can balance in the perfect spot
fill a bucket quick as I fill my lungs,
hold out a girl-child, cup in hand
so she can do the same

Afterwards, we slip-slide among boulders
under branches, over slick logs,
hands held tight, to the deepest pool.
We gasp and shriek at the cold!
Slither in, leap out, laughing into the
thick wet air, breathing water and moss
and cedar and salmon.
Back in the boat, goosepimpled,
we cross the inlet, slow against the skyline
(mustn’t spill a drop)
blankets around us, and the motor
humming us home,
our voices raised in song.

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