if i could see a drop of rain from the inside i would still never understand water even in my bed at night my body somehow leaks moisture and i am left thirsty, forced to trek from my cocoon for another drink in a glass of water a pencil becomes a bended ray of light pointing at impossible angles and when removed is again straight the glass no less changed than before water is not the air i breathe yet it is a part of each breath water shapes the world the morning dew from which bees drink, the slow drip that smooths canyon walls and hollows mountains, the summer waterfalls over desert cliffs the deep springs lapped from the lips of deer water is more necessary to life than air we are born in water, and that is where we will return. we are not dust turning to dust, nor ash to ash, but we are water turning to water.
Posted from Tamarack Song’s new blog.
The small size of villages means that girls approaching puberty have few, if any, peers to compare themselves to. Thus they do not develop to maturity in a context of intense comparison and competition. Each young girl is likely to be the center of attention for a number of years. As a girl begins to mature, the men of the village offer running commentaries on the changes in her body—obvious in a culture where the breasts are not covered—and joke about wanting to marry her or to run away with her. It is unlikely that the attention will have to be shared.
This experience seems to inspire self-esteem, as shown in the following sharing I had with a twelve-year-old girl. Her breasts were just starting to develop, and I saw her admiring herself. She was a lovely girl, although not outstanding in any way except by being in the full health and beauty of youth. She saw me watching. I teased in the !Kung manner I had by then thoroughly learned, “So ugly! How is such a young girl already so ugly?” She laughed. I asked, “You don’t agree?” She beamed, “No, not at all. I’m beautiful!” I said, “Beautiful? Perhaps my eyes have become broken with age that I can’t see where it is?” She said, “Everywhere—my face, my body. There’s no ugliness at all.” These remarks were said easily, with a broad smile, but without arrogance. The pleasure she felt in her changing body was as evident as the absence of conflict about it.
From pages 269-70 of Nisa, The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman (NY: Random House, 1983) by Marjorie Shostak.
to let you read inside this card
i made for you
unwrap and uncover:
this gift of a gentle memory
that warms me on cold days
when i think of you
(because i think of you)
and (kn)oh how i am vulnerable
how the innermost contents of this card
the words which i need not think
to say, but think often
are nails under my barefeet.
This poem was published in the poetry anthology Collected Whispers from a contest I entered at poetry.com. I don’t recommend you enter a poetry contest on that site for if you win, you’ll end up buying your own publication for $50. However, if that is a fair price for you to pay by all means go ahead and enter. I do have a very nice book with my poem in it now – though I feel that poems are far more valuable in the folds of crumpled paper than bounded in fancy leather. You be the judge, the witness, the pidgeon sitting on the statue. Thanks and enjoy.
i opened my heart and out poured
love onto the street
flooding and covering,
i opened the doors in my knees
as it rose past my feet.