Review the Language of Water

The challenge for Day 27 of NaPoWriMo would have us go at it slant. “Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem in the form of a review. But not a review of a book or a movie of a restaurant. Instead, I challenge you to write a poetic review of something that isn’t normally reviewed. For example, your mother-in-law, the moon, or the year 2020 (I think many of us have some thoughts on that one!)” With only four months out on 2020 it might be a tad early to do the year in review despite Coronapocolypse. I have already written about my mother-in-law on her birthday earlier this month. We have had our first daytime rain shower in a a very long while, which is unusual for Ireland. So I took water as my subject for review. And again, there are reviews and there are revisions.

The Language of Water
Sometimes it’s easiest as mother tongue,
though after a drought you can stumble
with its declensions. You need to review its
vocabulary. Best not to take it for granted,
like the opposable thumb. Oftentimes, it can stun.
It can have all the mystery of the foreign.
In some lonely places off the track
there are springs whose water slips like silk
and softens your fingers.  Then at others,
if you pause to drink, you taste the iron or peat.
Locals search for the one that is sweet.
Soft or hard, icy or warm, contained in a cup
or in a stony wellhead, it can overrun.
It can drown. It can cure or quench. It can be
rampant as forest cataract in spate.
It can be fresh, or salty as our tears,
as regularly irregular as ocean tides.
We barely know ourselves well enough
to describe our elemental being. Fluency
does not come easily. It becomes life long
study, revise and review. It takes constant
speaking, writing, reading the sky,
its clouds, and watching how the rivers run.
Copyright © Bee Smith, 2020. All rights reserved.

And then, because for those who are in very strict lockdown who are confined to quarters, or even those of us who are a bit restless for different scenery and want to revisit places in memory…I offer you memories of water.

4 thoughts on “Review the Language of Water

  1. Oh, Bee–this is an amazing poem and those photos are a blessing! I love that water is like language in your poem and has declensions–I can feel the truth of that statement in my bones.😍 The soft vs hard water reminded me of “apă vie” and “apă moartă” from Romanian fairytales. The first can bring someone back from the dead or give someone eternal youth. The latter heals all wounds or makes something/someone whole again. So fairytale heroes and heroines would use apă moartă to glue a fallen comrade back together, then apă vie to bring them back to life.

    And this is so true, “We barely know ourselves well enough / to describe our elemental being”–I love that you acknowledge that while having such a profound insight into our elemental being!💜

    My apologies for the long comment… Love this poem–thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing this lore. It reminds me of how Irish holy wells have ‘cures’ – some for the stomach, others for ‘nervous conditions.’ Though the Irish for whiskey translates as the water of life! The old lore overlaps and then has its own cultural twist.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And I’m sure many of those cures–if looked into–would have scientific proof. Natural chemistry!

        Also, I love to discover overlapping customs, legends, and mythologies in different cultures–at a time when the distance between people was great and the communication sporadic. (How anyone survived without the internet, I have no idea.)


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