When he told me he was leaving me, I disguised myself as a river so he wouldn’t see the tears flowing down my face, avoiding my jutting nose, creating little eddies in my dimples. He had fallen out of love, was feeling trapped. Each word sent ripples of pain in ever-growing screaming circles. The throbbing in my head, red-hot searing imprints, memories of ever-lasting words of love. Did they mean nothing?

I willed the river deep below. He was still talking, oblivious to the now underground river. He could safely ignore it, poison the deep subterranean waters with his thoughtlessness. I was part of a network of forlorn souls crying secret rivers feeding the world. Behold the Water Diviner, who rearranges us at will, sending hot lava flows one way, saturated brine streams another to corrode the next relationship, destroy the next milieu. The Water Diviner goes by the name Jealousy. He knows where to tap to raise the water, how often and how long. The bottomless reservoir of pain is dark and cold, numbing and scary. It contains washed-out bones, picked clean through acid tears. They lie jumbled and desolate, an underwater catacomb with no visitors. New skeletons sink to the bottom, forming a coral-like structure, brittle and beautiful in its chaotic manifestation. You would think the bones came up from the bottom, came to life from the sediments deposited over time, all the miseries of the world forming those haunting sculptures white on black, solid on liquid, beauty on despair.

What hides in the shadows of the bones? A mossy, furry substance has developed over the older memories, softening the hurt and changing the landscape. As people die, the bones turn to dust, a chalky residue that stains the cheeks of the next spurned lover, the next broken-hearted. The flow of tears is uninterrupted from trickle to full-on torrent. There is always fresh torment to ensure an ongoing supply. Sometimes pockets of air are born from the decay and bring to the surface old hurts to revisit and make new. They stink of unresolved situations gone moldy.

In this black night, the bones glow. Their uncanny beauty comes from within, the hurt eerily transmuted by an alchemy not well understood. When you plumb those depths, the real world feels like a dream, the new one like discovering the hidden face of the moon, with its musty air and weightlessness. Everything is upside down, no rules apply. Who is to say that thing is right, that one ugly? No, each one must make sense of it by himself, live by the rules he feels applies. This new world is governed by new words that have yet to be uttered.


The dam is leaking again and I am running out of ways of plugging the holes. The latest news had me crawling under the covers, cold to the bone, depleted. Why can’t I sleep? I am exhausted. Trying to run scenarios. What worked last time? I must get myself out of doors. Get my senses activated. I get up, grab a snack from the fridge, head outside to eat on the deck. The sun is shining bright. I eat mechanically. So tired. The sun is beating down on me. I rest my firehead down on the table. Firehead. It does feel like steam will soon shoot out of my ears.

I can feel the water rising inside me. Low tide is when I can make my way on firmer sand and leave traces of my passage. It’s not an easy walk. If I deviate or am distracted, I sink in the sand and stumble trying to make my way to the next tree, the next rock, the next landmark. There is lots to discover at low tide, the underbelly of the water body.

This is definitely high tide, where I am caught unawares in a maelstrom of thoughts. Suddenly, I’m in trouble. Angry water is swishing at my ankles, making walking perilous. The ground is shifting under me, throwing me off balance. Thoughts come in small bursts. They are incomplete, synapses misfiring, a little smoke where they hit a damp spot. It’s all foggy and sorry-looking inside. Stink of wet, rotten thoughts that need airing.

Was my dam ever tight? Does a dam not always leak? The vast reservoir of emotions is kept in check uphill, a little bit trickling down at a time. I am usually pretty happy with my dam: I add defense mechanisms to it; they usually hold up real good. Except lately. Lately, the water’s been too high, it’s been coming from all over, in rivulets and rivers, from the mountains and the rainfalls. It seems that’s all I see everywhere I look. Water coming down my cheeks, thoughts swimming in my head. Did I mention I was tired? This incessant paddling, threading water without respite. An occasional bit of driftwood sustains me briefly but it doesn’t last. It eventually sinks and I am left to my own devices.

I go under a few times – the water is opaque, still and cold. Nothing seems to live down there. I would have expected sharks, at least, and plenty of stuff floating around that would be edible. It turns out nobody wants my stuff. It probably sank to the bottom of me and only strong waves stirs them up. I go back up for air, why I wonder. Why not embrace the cold and stillness? Here I am, gasping, desperate to keep going. My foot finds a ledge. It is tiny, a mere bump, but hope surges through my body as I land one foot and then switch to the other, buying time, buying time.

And yet I wonder. What if I managed to tame the water? What about free diving? I trust that I can go under, and that my body will embrace the darkness. If I push past the fear and doubt, and fully immerse myself, what then? I quiet the voice within, screaming disagreement. I go inside, deep inside, past the fear, the cold, the isolation, the night – everything known and comforting. I keep pushing. I will run out of air, yet the need for air is not pressing. I will run out of time, yet time has slowed. I am back in the eternal womb, swathed by a gentle pressure as I keep heading down. I see flashes of light as I go – weak electric currents, photoluminescence. I keep going until I find vents –chemicals and heat are the answer. This is where the primal energy resides. This is what lies below. I have hit rock bottom and there is still life.

I pause briefly. Deep down, there is no thinking, just being. This deep there is intelligence but mostly survival instinct. I kick and head up. It is a long journey, back to the light. It feels longer as my organs decompress and start crying for air, as a baby cries for attention or food. I am focused and driven. I break the surface and inhale deeply. The fire in my lungs subsides.

Is this what I feared? This subtle shift in consciousness? I can’t wait to go back.



The Rod Lady

The crowd watched in respectful silence as she walked slowly across the field, tilting this way and that, her rod at the ready. Experience had taught her that people needed a show almost as much as they needed the Water. Since the owner was paying handsomely for her services, she would be rewarding them with a good show.

She had arrived the day before to meet her client. Together, they had walked the land. When the conversation had petered out, he was content to walk by her side, quietly, his mutt Rocky keeping pace. He watched her from the corner of his eye. She was breathing in the dusk, palms out and slightly away from her body. He could feel her watery presence and could have sworn she almost liquefied at one point. He had heard of mirages, was not an ignoramus. He put great faith in the Farmer’s Almanac.

The creek had turned to sand two years ago, and the dry spell did not seem about to break. His unfortunate stalks had stood crackling under the unrelenting rays. He was deep in debt. Desperate times called for desperate measures. When he saw her small ad in the Almanac, he had made inquiries. It appeared she was the real deal. She believed it when he met her – serious, plain, a wisp of a woman, though her strong grey eyes told a different story. Presently, she slowed down, came to a halt, and stood there looking around. Rocky, too, had stopped. He sniffed and pawed at the dirt. Dust rose around them, a dry, searing presence. Looking through him, she suddenly resumed walking, cutting a diagonal towards a stand of trees. He had not followed her. He could see she was on a trail, antennas quivering, nose atwitching. A hound for water. Was there any left? How far down? He took a deep breath to calm down. She brought back the coolness and shade of the trees. They headed back, he to the house, she to her trailer. Most of her clients lived in remote areas, and the trailer allowed her to be comfortable and close at hand.


Morning had come and she was already out in the fields, pacing, her rod stuck nonchalantly in her back pocket. Word had gone out, and trucks lined the dirt road, looker-ons gathering to watch. Kids followed her. The man, Rocky, and a few neighbours joined her. She took out her rod and explained, “I am looking for water. Our bodies are 60% water. Please stay back so you don’t interfere with the process.” She headed towards the trees, rod limply held in front of her. A pause – everyone stopped breathing. Some swear they saw the rod quiver. She took a right and kept going. People were counting her steps, craning their necks, moving in parallel to her. Rocky followed with a stick in his mouth. She stopped, bent down and stuck his stick in the ground. “Here,” she said.