Water is Life
We all begin, cradled in the water. The storm of our mother’s womb, we, torrential in our desire to be known and know the world, initially seek out of the water. But it is the first home we have ever known how to be in, and the water, no matter how seemingly still, will be troubled, will make room and endure.
At the end of the world, there was a doorway and the sea.
But before that there was darkness; crowded bunker made of clay and sand, shoved together without light, without our fleshly kin. But then there was a doorway, light and the sea, and boats meant for something other than retrieving, and we were put into the belly of the ship. Put there and meant to live somehow, to not rot from the inside out. Some of us did. Others when we saw where we were, above the realm of the ancestors, fled to them
Jumped and then flew to them.
The dying waters aboard their ship acted as such, made poison out of what should have been life. So, when they called some of us to the kitchen, to make this stale, stagnant water something other than what it was, we called on the power of Obi, to see, to know, to last above.
When we landed or met this land, where the soil did not know our name in the same way, after weeks and weeks of drinking in the Obi, it was easy to sense what was to come, what would not be offered to us. And so, though we had finished this crossing we too flew home together. Turned around just flew. Not all of us, but enough for others to know, enough for there to be more than just rumor.
Eventually from that flying place we watched the sharks, watched them follow the ships, equally hungry for our pound of flesh as them cannibals leading more of us across. This was also the end of the world. The end of their way of life. For the sharks we mean.
We watched as places tended to for thousands of years slowly became something, they would call wild, something we would call unmet.
Time in the water passes differently, you know.
There’s this creature that lives at the bottom of the ocean, and no matter how sealike the scientists make the conditions, it will not replicate itself out of the water. Maybe they are missing the slow and deep time that is found around the ocean floor, that by simply being there this creature senses. This is one of my favorite truths. The easiest fuck you I can think of.
On the Aquatic
and they said We wouldn’t survive it
and all of We haven’t
yet some have
and so, We say We
it came like it always does
stinking of desire: clumsiness
… and rage raging
… clumsily he came
she came couldn’t help to
stinking of desire: desiring
and rage: raging
… clumsily …
and they hoped We wouldn’t survive
and all of We won’t
and some must
because if not Us who
couldn’t help to
it will come
through the land
in the water
thinking she could come to know
thinking he was seeing
he could not name
and then she and them that gets to be a single them,
couldn’t help to
when the ships came
We heard one of them whisper
a whole new world
and We laughed and
the earth kept spinning
and We remained
Sometimes there is return. Sometimes you have to go and find. Sometimes the seas’ mysteries demand to be known and remembered. Sometimes they come up to meet you, in a thunderstorm, in a hurricane, the hint of a slave ship waiting closer to us than the seafloor … to show what ends we have already lived through. We are already at the end of many worlds, and some of us must see the end all the way through …
Bre (Nyx) Byrd is a writer, performer, plant enthusiast, and PhD student in the Department of Feminist Studies at UC Santa Cruz. Her poetry is a deep dive into memory, grief, race, and relationships to the natural world. Their current body of work engages questions around the “Anthropocene,” apocalypse, and sustainable futures through the lens of African Diaspora, Native/Indigenous Studies, and Black Feminisms. Bre’s writing is influenced by the vision within Zapatismo un mundo donde quepan muchos mundos/a world where many worlds fit and hopes to write her way towards it.
The RichAnt, born Antwanyce Richardson, is a visual artist who has been painting and creating art for over a decade. A self-taught artist, often described as a Renaissance woman, The RichAnt creates mixed media art using many different forms of media: oils, watercolor, gouache, collage, resin, digital, and more. The RichAnt is also a loving mother of two children. She currently resides and works in her home studio in Maryland.
About the Artwork
Coral Lily | watercolor and gouache on paper | 20 x 20 | 2014