Patricia Waugh

Patricia Waugh

Water was selected for MSUL’s themed call for work about Water, in coordination with the MSU Broad Art Museum’s fall 2023 exhibition, Flint is Family in Three Acts, featuring the photography of Latoya Ruby Frazier.

H20 molecules,
2 Hydrogen atoms and 1 Oxygen atom combined,
Science describes the inanimate,
The processes, not the soul,
I was a mermaid child,
I knew nothing of chemistry,
But I knew water,
I could float on it,
It would hold me,
But I couldn't hold it,
It slipped through my hands,
I could swim under it if I held my breath,
But I couldn't breathe it,
It cooled me from the heat of the sun,
If I stayed in the water too long my skin wrinkled and my lips turned blue,
I could walk into it in slow motion,
I could move through it,
But not like I could move through air,
It pushed back,
I could drink it and it passed through me,
I could mix it to make things,
Water and sand became mudpies,
Water came down from the sky as rain,
Scrubbing the air clean,
Washing the grass,
Making me wet and slippery,
Water moved things,
Slowly over time with gently lapping waves,
Or quickly with rushing waterfalls,
Water's surface mirrored back to me the surrounding landscapes and the cloudy sky,
Until I splashed and the reflection disappeared,
Water brought me joy and laughter
But there was always a hidden danger of water overwhelming me,
Stopping my breath,
And taking my life,
Water on my bare skin was soft and silky,
In my dreams I lived and breathed underwater,
Delighted at my new found abilities,
In my dreams I moved on top of the water,
Skimming the surface without effort.
It had secrets to tell me,
Summer secrets were loud and raucous,
In the winter water became solid, cold, and quiet,
I could not float or swim or splash,
But I could stand on it and it didn't move,
There were different kinds of water,
Lakes and streams,
Oceans and swamps,
Swimming pools and ponds,
It was transparent,
I could see through it,
Yet it was also blue, green, or muddy brown,
It called to me through sunshine sparkles dancing on the surface,
Its waves were my favorite lullabies,
And they still are,
Now I use it to make my garden grow,
To wash my clothes and myself,
To make my food,
To take my medicine,
To make coffee and tea,
I know water,
Water is magic,
Water is life.

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