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On the nature of water

by Margo Greb


A pencil drawing of a fire with a pot of water above it.

This is about water. 

If it reads disjointed then consider this a soup. Or maybe 

A place to get your feet wet 


The home I was born in is a side of the hill dome that leads down to a tributary

Tohickon, Lenni-Lenape for

Deer-bone-creek or piece of wood or wooded place or Deers place 


At home at the end of the day you can walk the dog down the emergency access trail

Which turns into boy scout “property” 

And either continue up onto the ridge or go straight down to the Tohickon 


New development last time I was home; 

the metal gate that restricts pedestrians on the emergency trail “By order of Police”

Had been smashed by a big ol dying Sugar Maple 


It felt personal 

The word victorious came to mind 

That gate's been a joke to my family forever


You can walk around it—no fence 

It is a silly door with no wall 

to imply that it is the end all be all of passages 


Death to borders! Last thing the Maple said 

Approaching that gate became an amusing ritual this time around 

Anything can be a portal if you want it to be 


My favorite time to go through that portal was just a bit before sundown 

So that by the time the dog and I got to the ridge or to the water 

There would be another portal: 


Dusk 

Because I think this is so important 

Here's some poetry: 


Dusk is the hermit we meet on our journey 

Who shows us the beaming gate of vitality 

And says you must keep the flame burning 


There's probably another poem to tell you that i’m weaving a metaphor for 

the Metal phase as it leads into the Water phase 

Says something real nice about going down that hill towards the creek consolidating 


Even talks about metal as a vessel for water 

How boundless water will be a boundary in itself 

There's a link between the gratitude I feel for the soup pot 


and the necessity of form for water 

Metal gives shape. Consider cups 

Consider gates consider the dusk that transports us 


from Fall to Winter 

Metal to Water 

Day to Night 


Consider the gift of each dusk’s 

Gilded invitation to go in and down 

Daily baptism. Renewal. That pearly word


Ceremony 

The most amazing thing i've ever done is walk alongside a rained and raging creek 

Sun gone down dog with no shadow 


Water moving like a threat 

Shoreline superseded 

Can’t distinguish the awe from fear from respect from love 


I have dreams like this 

Water out of bounds, busted through edges, spilling dams, volatile seas 

A sense of everything moving past my chest 


On the other side a vertical red cliff 

It wouldn’t be respectful to describe its 

Rhythm, voice, the contents of its body 


Beech trees decked out in rain drops 

Sycamores smirking their asses off 

Wytch hazel being all scorpio-like

 

Brilliant 

Hilarious even 

The older I get the more I laugh with the sacred, the beautiful, the incomprehensible 


Sanctity 

Of this 

World 


If you wanna know what all this sounds like listen here 

Now I can talk about the rocks: 

The second most amazing thing I've ever done is put a bunch of rocks in my pockets 


There are a lot of things that humans have done for a long time 

One of them is go to the water and put rocks into whatever blessed little satchel 

Someone made with the utmost care and attention 


I could puke thinking about how this simple act 

Connects me to everyone before 

We’re all just gathering rocks to bring back home 


This winter in my cave I’ve found underground passages

AKA wormholes 

Got obsessed with the intimacy of Indigenous stone agricultural tools 


Immersed in the devotion that turns rock into a mirror for the human hand 

Astonished at their return to water to hundreds of years later 

be fished out by some human who still forages in the streams 


Puts rocks in pockets and heads home 

There’s a stupid-deep beam of self going down into the ground 

weighing the wretched eons of events leading up to me being born here 


It taps a spring that bellows: I cherish and am responsible to this place! 

I took my rocks home back up past the damned gate 

Dark, wet, cold, weighted, cavernously content 


There's a wood stove waiting for me 

The third most amazing thing i've ever done is tend a fire 

Gathered earths wood stacked it fed the flame 


Got dizzy thinking about the thoracic cycle of 

Being alive and being dead 

Held close that silly little human tendency 


to form a circle 

Around Water around Fire 

Here we remember that death is the absence of warmth 


and the beginning of birth 

Dusk asks What are you giving death to? 

As the lantern guides you down the hill 


You're probably wondering what the fourth most amazing thing I’ve ever done is 

And that's walk with my feet on the ground 

obsessive repetitive fall of one foot in front of the other 


Ridiculous holy relation of water to earth 

This body constantly caught 

by the soil of everything 


Consider that it is the earth beneath our feet that carries us through gates 

That inseparable magnetic bond of life

Consider salt while we’re here 


What I really came to talk about is kidneys 

How way down in our winter caves way down by the creek we have to nourish 

Drink from the cup of rest, make lists of words that start with W 


Weave worn wear wash whisper witch whey watch wind winter warm well wand want

Whistle wander wonder want warble walak wrangle wrench wrought wsuppi will west

Whet willow water 


Winter is a Water Ceremony 

It is a Fire ceremony 

A time to tend our vessels 


A time to reflect the light of the flame 

Here's a poem to the water: 

Take this branch of my chest 


And dowse the dried flute of my Liver 

Strike also the rock of my throat 

So that my words may sweeten the bitter. 


When I emerge with the dawn with Frankincense 

new skin shining buds growing all over the place 

Blooming out of that Eastern hill 


Roots way down talking to the rest of the world 

It is as the Knight of Cups 

Winged feet water by my side 


Nourished, satiated, vessel in hand 

A gesture and a devotion 

to let the water of my words form the world I traverse 


A song comes out of me glistening in the morning sun 

It softens the ground makes moist the seed beds and bellows 

Be in loving arms and let your arms be loving! 


And there you have the fifth most amazing thing i’ve ever done 

Another human habit to Hold 

and be held


Inspired by Sam Perry’s class “Entering the Circle”

Other rocks in my pockets: 




Sources: 

Richard Mandelbaum 

Claudia Keel 

Samuel Perry 

Stasia Warren 

Hayley Maier


 

Margo Greb is a third-year student at ArborVitae. You can find them on Substack at 0rbWeaver.

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