a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
Erin Lyn Bodin
Go to the Water First
My husband has taught me this.
In the first year on our farm, I lose him for hours to the springs and Little Brook, to the fields where he walks over underground waterways, searching for places where the earth holds the rain. When the land is just-hayed, he heads out to look for the slight changes of un-grassed contours that will dictate where water will flow.
He is out there, alone, in twilight. The time of day he has for his own. The only time of day when he doesn’t worry about money or what-next or faith in his own newness.
I watch him where I can’t reach him.
He is a conductor of physical music –his arms pointing to all directions, his eyes seeing what others can’t: where water will flow from the road after a storm to meet the brook, water from which all we plant will drink. Here and there, and around this way, see the slight slant of the mounded grass; see the grooves of earth that can hold the water; see the shade of trees that aren’t yet there.
(And how, my darling –even with all the fears you carry—can you say you’d leave?)
He is a builder of steps he began in the water where Little Brook pools, by unearthing each rock, tracing each edge, searching their shapes.
I know how gentle that touch is.
He had to start in the water and he had to place one at a time. Some stones became steps, others walls, others seats in the pools. I love to be among the ones that found a place—sun-baked, moss-strewn, or smooth as my husband’s water-logged fingers. And I love to be among the ones still piled up –not heaps of ruins or discarded things, but perfect steps with their places yet to be discovered.
When the fear of the unknown is a weight I can’t bear I go to the brook and sit on his steps and miss him.
(Can you grieve what you haven’t lost?)
He is the reflection of tree in water that stays as stream passes by.
No, he is the stream that I kneel in – my dress hung on branch — and he is the shiver that starts in that stream then hangs at my nipples just a moment longer than I expected.
Erin Lyn Bodin is a writer, a Pisces, is training as a birth labor doula, and lives in rural Vermont beside springs, brooks, and ponds. Water surrounds her life. She studies poetry, creative non-fiction and fiction in the Stonecoast MFA Creative Writing Program. Erin’s poetry has been published in the Black Earth Institute’s About Place Journal and Magnolia: A Journal of Women’s Socially Engaged Literature. Her essay “Waking Up in the City of Joy” was named an honorable mention in the 2013 Tiferet Journal Writing Contest.