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  • 1.

    Can one write with water? That is a question that has been sloshing about in my head for a while now, sometimes even spilling over when I walk too quickly.

    What would it mean if you could? Susana asks.

    Don’t you have better things to think about? my mother suggests.


    2.

    It is a sunny day in San Francisco - everything shines. The eucalyptus trees’ leaves turn silver and blow gently like tender Miros. Streetcars clatter to each other as they pass. Coffee is brewing. The morning is freshly shaved and sharply dressed. Everything smells clean, too, like hosed-down sidewalks.

    I head to the bay to think about water, to get some help from the substance itself. The bay is a giant gulp of it. Today it looks emerald and almost solid. Jellyfish rise and float lazily about in its euphotic crown, going where the water takes them, egg yolks breaking apart and then coming back together. And the gulls - they're riding the bay’s soft laughter, they’re wearing empty crab shells for jewelry, they’re drowsy on the scent of marlin and mackerel fish.

    All of this speaks to my water-filled head. It is the north of my internal compass. It’s the migratory map of some phylogentic memory.


    3.

    A stranger joins me for a spell at the bay's edge. She tells me she was once a seal and then a mermaid and now she is a woman. She says she doesn’t miss the watery world much but she can’t bring herself to leave the Bay Area. She also says she just needs a dollar so she can take the bus and wonders aloud if I might have an extra one. It happens that I do. She takes it and slips away with a splash.


    4.

    I sat there thinking until the Bay Bridge turned from silver to blue and then to lamp-lit steel. It’s funny to say now, but its changes reflected the shifting moods of the water, following it breathlessly up to the moment the bay disappeared into the night and the bridge stood somewhat desolate and alone.


    5.

    I didn’t find the answer to my question or Susana’s or my mother’s.

    Maybe I’ll return to the bay tomorrow, to the jellyfish and gulls, to the seal who became a mermaid who became a woman, and to the bridge that reflects the water.

    Oh, immortal infancy and innocency of the azure! Invisible winged creatures frolic all around us! whispers Herman as he kisses me goodnight.


    [photo by Shane Convery]
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