Scoundrel Time

Water Talks


It was August. The stream ran low but was busy with creatures seeking to cool off. One day a little human stood on the bank, and sneezed, and a virus entered the stream.
Stream said, Are you singing?
Virus said, I am host seeking.
Sounds like a dirge, stream said, but what sort of host do you seek?
A warm one, said virus.
I have been warming for weeks, said stream. Am I not a host?
You are a vehicle, said virus.
I am the lowest point, said stream.
And you move to lower places, where my hosts often like to dwell in large numbers, said virus.
We have passed several creatures warmer than me, said stream. Just now a beaver, earlier a bathing human, both of them very warm, their orifices exposed, and yet you are still with me.
There is chance involved, said virus.
In the design of your host-seeking, said stream, is chance?
Yes, in my design, and in all designs.
And what becomes of a warm body upon its hosting you?
It feeds me. It heats up as it feeds me. It must not burn too hot, however. My main concern is that it remain alive, hot and alive, and it must not understand me deeply enough to annihilate me.
I do not like the sound of your work, said stream.
It is a strange life, and I did not choose it, said virus.
Might you find another vehicle soon? asked stream.
Soon, I will find a host and it will be my vehicle.
A vehicle that also feeds you—how convenient!
But isn’t the rain what feeds you while also being what keeps you going? said virus.
I suppose, stream said.
Even the light feeds us as it transports us, said virus.
Seems we’re all so well hosted and fed, said stream.
It is good to be aware, said virus.
But not too aware, said stream.
Exactly, said virus.

after Lewis Hyde

Then in the earth a violent motion created a fissure. Superheated water, way hotter than boiling, entered the base of the fissure, as much cooler water, surface recharge, entered through cracks higher up in the fissure. The two waters began to commingle in highly energetic ways.
We should erect a statue of our creation and forget where we put it, said the superheated water.
Since here the remote-what’s-to-come meets the remote-what-has-been-done, said the surface recharge, I’m totally game.
But no remote is without a future and a past, said the superheated water.
Has shame burned a hole in all your tastebuds? asked the surface recharge.
Not in my tastebuds but in my equilibrium, said the superheated water.
Then how do you carry the dissolved memories of the dead? asked the surface recharge.
The same way you carry the ancestral knowledge of what’s-to-come, said the superheated water.
Mine from above and yours from below, said the surface recharge, but not as different as one would expect.
We might as well be clones, said the superheated water, though from a different shamescape.
Such is the way we are erasing one another, said the surface water.
A real trip how we’re all the time erasing one another, said the surface water, only to begin again.
Pressure, said the superheated water. It’s pretty mundane, really.
Not so fast, buster, said the surface recharge. We must remain aware that touch is not contact.
Sure, said the superheated water, but when we have contact we erupt.
How steamy! said the surface recharge.


The flood receded. The creek was a creek again. Water fanned over rocks. Many ridges and wrinkles, a soothing topography. Distraction felt viable again. No more sprawl and devour, though the ground still reeked of it. The creek said to the land, I wish the sun would dry you out.
The land said, I wish you’d stop it with all your twinkling. It’s like you’re some water flute. You were quieter in flood.
The creek said, You were quieter in flood, too.
The land said, That flood licked me good.
It is visible, the creek said, that licking.
The leaves have moved, said the creek. They’re all matted against certain of my stones.
The land said, Those are my stones.
The creek said, Not anymore.
And my leaves, too, said the land.
Possession is boring, said the creek. Let’s get on with it.
Isn’t it tiresome to be always be getting on with it, said the land.
Much the opposite, said the creek.
I prefer settling in, said the land.
In some pools I settle, said the creek, and it’s nice enough.
The cold will come again and settle you for a while, said the land.
Ice is bearable, said the creek.
It scours you, said the land, no?
It tenderizes, said the creek, as it does you, no?
The song the ice brings, said the land, is a pregnant one.
You mean it expands? asked the creek.
I mean it births, said the land.


A tear fell into the brackish water of the marsh as the tide was just starting to turn. Soon, an oyster sucked the tear into its yumspace. The tear felt many things inside the oyster. Oyster, noticing the tear, said, How’s your day going?
Mighty fine, said tear. And yours?
Same old, said oyster. I’m glad the tide is turning.
I bet you are, said tear.
What do you know of tides? asked oyster.
I am a product of tides.
You mean the moon drives you, too?
Of course, said tear.
I wasn’t aware of that, moon said.
Tear said, I wasn’t either, but being in your yumspace has showed me.
That’s good to hear, said oyster.
It’s good to feel, said tear, to feel that I’ve grown closer to my origins.
Your origins are far away, no? said oyster.
Grief birthed me, said tear, but the moon birthed the grief.
Perhaps the sun birthed the moon, said oyster.
Perhaps the marsh birthed the body that channeled the grief birthed by the moon, tear said.
Perhaps the body that channeled the grief is closer now than before, even if the body has moved far inland, oyster said.
Maybe so, said tear.
This is going to be a good flood tide, oyster said. There is much aswirl.
I have been birthed by other bodies channeling grief and by some bodies channeling joy and some even that were channeling desperation, said tear, so I know swirl.
This body of mine, said oyster, is too close to swirl to really know it.
But soon you will spit me out, no? asked tear.
Naturally, I will spit out part of you, said oyster, and part of you will remain with me.
I will be two places at once then, said tear.
You will be one in two places, said oyster.
As in twice whole, asked tear, such as both wings of your shell?
It is happening now, started oyster.
I feel the same, said tear, yes, but I feel it twice.




Thorpe Moeckel’s sixth book, Down by the Eno, Down by the Haw: A Wonder Almanac, was published in fall 2019 by Mercer University Press, and his middle grade novel, True as True Can Be, along with a collection of poems, According to Sand, will be published in 2022. He has taught at Hollins University since 2005.






Image By: Thorpe Mockel