Three or four sets of twins show up in this text in different constellations.
When water fractures. It opens. And new ideas take refuge in its crevices.
NOTE: Water is home only to those who have learned the spells to disappear themselves in its embrace.
- Water as a thing that opens
Its fringes are faint. Sometimes foggy. Delicately demur - with curvatures and straight lines that linger into a kind of daze, endlessly. The kind that turns heads and eyes into a hazy pulp, only to be suspended by the harrowing certitudes of life, embedded in the knowledge of something or someone. The love of someone in the ground. A body tucked away carefully. A memory resting. Arrested by time, place and a yearning.
How is water not a spell?
We speak with the dead, daily. It is an art to move amongst the living and the ancestral plains. A ritual. A salutation. It is done with intent, with an aching desire. And with water or whisky. There is a word for it. Libation. When you return home after a long journey, before you sit in and make yourself comfortable, you salute. You go to their grave-side with a bottle or a horn and you pour its content at their feet to announce your return.
Those same elements appear when two souls couple themselves together in matrimony. Water and whisky exchange hands. They are used to mark places where bodies lay, where beauty has been ascertained. Where a single rose stands. Where expectation breaths. Where it has a face, a body, and a womb.
- Water as a thing that closes
It closes in on you, your children, their cloudiest dreams, their rockiest nightmares and every hidden craving.
Her feet know the softness of the ground above water shores and the gravels that refuse to hold her footprints. At her core, what she remembers is a denial. A body without a history to belong to. A present without a future. A mouth without a word. How does history write and re-write itself without the voices of women, girls, and boys who traffic its shores? without the prints of a foot, or names etched deep into the night? How does history remember itself without the stories of the oppressed?
When your keg is half-full or half-empty, your household is in disarray. The elders are convened. And Water is invited to balance, to re-affirm to re-instate. This is why when I was a little boy of about six, my grandmother put a broom in my right hand. And said !sweep”. It was another way of saying !feed the earth”. You feed the earth by sweeping rainwater off the veranda onto the ground before the first kiss of the sun on its arrival.
Granny would say !heaven and earth are twin sisters at war on opposite sides”. She would say !they battled each other for water, souls, and power” and when !water rises into the skies, an extraction happens and the earth stayed hungry that day”. On such a day, !the earth and everything in it goes limp from aching hunger. Its body goes on a strike”. So every morning at 5:20 am we woke up and took turns sweeping rainwater onto the ground to feed the hungry earth - hoping she will return our kindness by holding seeds long enough in her womb for when the harvest season knocked.
We lived in seasons then, as we do now. And water still sits on heads, in gallons, buckets, calabashes, crockpots, and jars, swaying atop stretched necks and bodies of all kinds. Where we collect water for drinking is where goats, cows, chickens, dogs, sheep, choose to drink from. When we scurry them away and scoop, we take their place. We put our lives before theirs and all others. It is a matter of life and death. Water is a matter of life and death in many regions of the world.
In the far north regions of Cameroon, only an estimated five percent of households have access to water. In sub-Saharan Africa, more than two million children die yearly from diseases caused by contaminated water. In the far north regions of Cameroon, women, girls and boys walk. They walk four miles on average with stretched necks. Carrying gallons of up to forty litters. It takes time to be a person in these parts. The women, girls, and boys who live here are held back by function and by the desires in the gullets of the men they bring water home to.