- My Relationship with Water
"Miriam's water mingles with all the waters that run through the earth."Danielle Storper-Perez and Henri Cohen-Solal
When I moved to the country, my relationship with water changed. No longer an invisible pair of hands or eyes (hotel staff office cleaners street-lamp checkers), it became a personality with its own agenda, a cranky relative.
A well shared with two neighborsspins threads between houses copper filaments buried not so deeply they can't be dug up. When my ragged pipe chooses to crack, water is pulled out of your faucets, your washing machines. We are connected, we three housesful of strangers, closer than cousins. [End Page 43]
The sweetness was a marvel, a gift.Coffee here had more echoes than Brooklyn's. A beaded glass on a hot day, a fuller experience: a live symphony, not a song on the radio, a conversation into the night over wine where we picked the bones of the universe together, not a greeting at a party.
But there were things we had to learn.A taxi drives up to a yard heaped with snow. I am home to a tumultuous house. Water acrobats out of the ceiling swims backward in the hall, breaking rules like a gang of teenage vandals. Or when new cold strikes a certain place on the cellar wall, it retreats in one faucet, while the other three plod on hardily.
As the house and we aged together,the water's character deepened. We thought this was natural. Then the warning: Do Not Drink. A factory up the road, now dead and emptied, bled years of debris into the common source. Now we have to be protected from the living spirit of our house. We lug in buckets from the Community College. Our taxes buy us new carbon filters. Our water grumbles in its pipes, rejected and sick, a relative driven mad by the doings of others, a mother barricaded in the attic, an injured worker taking aim at his colleagues.
Eventually, we come to an agreement,using our filtered well for some tasks, grocery bottles for others. A public system will soon be installed [End Page 44] (they tell us at a meeting at the firehouse) and all the dangerous springs cemented over. We'll pay water taxes and become a tiny city. I taste that promised water, bland and harmless, already mourning our quirky lost resident. I can almost understand the holdout neighbors who still want to drink from their afflicted wells, who insist their own water can't hurt them.
Miriam, I'd like to call on youto heal these wells, this common water, this community. May I invite you to the next meeting along with the EPA people the engineers the local officials? This is Friday morning. Tonight all rivers connect, and belong to you. Dare I ask for a miracle, a blessing, some good advice?
Enid Dame (1943-2003) was a poet and writer whose work often reflected her Jewish background and culture. Her last book of poems published in her lifetime, Stone Shekhina (East Hampton, NY: Three Mile Harbor, 2002), is a series of midrashic poems. Her other books of poetry include Anything You Don't See (Albuquerque, NM: West End, 1992), Lilith and Her Demons (Merrick, NY: Cross-Cultural Communications, 1989), and On the Road to Damascus, Maryland (Brooklyn, NY: Downtown Poets, 1980). Her poem "Chagall Exhibit 1996" won Many Mountains Moving literary award for 1997, and she had received two Puffin Foundation grants and a NY State CAPS fellowship for her work. With Lilly Rivlin and Henny Wenkart, she co-edited Which Lilith? Feminist Writers Re-create the World's First Woman (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1998). She had been a co-editor of Bridges, and also of Home Planet News, the literary tabloid she and her husband, Donald Lev, founded in 1979. She taught composition, creative writing, and the Bible as Literature at New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University for many years. Where Is The Woman?, a small memorial volume of letters and poems written shortly before her death, was published in 2006 by Shivastan...