-published by Piquant Press, December, 2011 in Being Unquiet
She found the place he had described, a shell of a place, tucked into the bank, away from people and noise. She wondered if he would follow her there. She sat on the cusp of dirt under the trees, her back to a scratchy trunk, roots poking into her buttocks and waited. Waited for the moment when thinking would stop, when breath and the ripple of water would be everything. When her body and the body of land would be one. Whether he came or not didn’t matter, she told herself, breathing. I won’t be disturbed by him. His eyes were the colours of abalone and the skin of his hands was rough. That was enough for her. She breathed again, because that was what she came here to do, breathe. Breathe the water, the air, the earth under her legs. She heard her father laughing at her when she told him to breathe into his feet as she massaged his shoulders. It didn’t matter; she knew how to breathe into her feet. That was what she did now, one breath sprouting roots, one tendril at a time through the soles of her feet. It didn’t hurt much, just that popping relief like a pimple grown fat breaking the skin. From between her toes slender shoots pushed, snaking into the earth around her. Pressure at her back, the skin cracked and split, and she heard the rip of fabric. Between her legs her vagina swelled, splitting like a ripe plum as a root broke free and burrowed into the ground. As she drew in her breath and exhaled, a stem rose from her throat and shot up to tangle with the branches of the tree where she sat. She heard him approach, just as leaves unfurled from her ears, the rustle of his step the last sound to reach her. Into the bowl of roots her lap made he settled himself, the warmth of his back against her trunk. She felt the push of his ribs as he breathed in, the settling of leaves as he breathed out.
I think I know what water dreams. Bloated white bellies, a hook through the eye. The slip of blue-green shells in the under-swell of waves. From these rise the stories carried to shore by morning, their wavering images tossed among seagrasses and bits of broken plastic. I know what water dreams because I have floated there, limbs limp, hair like weeds, with my eyes open despite sand and salt. For nights following days, the dreams tilted and dispersed, danced their awful dances and died. Once, water dreamed of land, dreamed soldiers and machines, and I saw that too. It dreamed fish turning into trees and trees crashing back to water in the middle of the night. It dreamed of a woman sitting up in her bed, blood and shit and a cry that no one heard. It dreamed of salt meeting sweet in a deep canyon under stone. It dreamed of lovers with legs and arms, floating toward the surface. It dreamed of words, strange dark marks scrolling through the depths, curling and standing erect, that made no sense at all. I think I know what water dreams, because I dipped into the font and drank until all my limbs flowed, and saw traces of finger and toe through ribbons of blue and green and white twisting in the rapids.