Prose – Terry Tempest Williams, “When Women Were Birds: Fifty Four Variations On Voice”

hand-holding-seashell-water
Photo by Biel Morro

“Why this relationship to Mother and water?

Breaking waters. We are born from what is fluid, not fixed. Water is essential. A mother is essential. The ocean as a mother is mesmerizing in her power, a creative force that can both comfort and destroy. My mother and I came to trust each other on the beach where we sat. Between the silences, we played together. We entertained ourselves. On the edge of the continent, looking west, we came to an understanding of the peace and violence around us. Power is the sea’s thundering voice, the curling and crashing of waves. Water is not nothing if not ingemination, an encore to the tenacity of life. And life held in the sea is surface and depth, what we see and what we imagine.
We cast a line, we throw out a net, what emerges is religion in the form of fish.

My mother’s trangression was hunger. She passed her hunger on to me without ever speaking a word. Solitude is a memory of water. I live in the desert. And everyday I am thirsty.

When I opened my mother’s journals and read emptiness, it translated to longing, that same hunger and thirst Mother translated to me. I will rewrite this story, create my own story on the pages of my mother’s journals.”

– Terry Tempest Williams

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