HYDRA (Porter Brook)
(On becoming or being water)

(Relating to the HEAD)

Trickling from the earth up high on Burbage Moor, the brook has three springs that feed it at its beginning, its source. Beginning seems an odd word to describe the circular system water inhabits. It has been underground for perhaps hundreds of years to run high enough to seep out through the springs. It has been called wise water, this water high on Burbage Moor that has been flowing in rivers and brooks, has been in circulation in the atmosphere as rain, fog or snow and then spent an age in the ground collecting memories, obtaining knowledge from deep underground, through the layers of earth, minerals and stone. The grit stone of the Peaks. It has leaked from the depths and the dark, through minerals and the earthy peat.

The brook comes into its own in the valley named after it. Its descent is long and steep. It falls more than 300 meters before merging with the river Sheaf, under the railway station below platform 5.

The easy way to think about this is to fall into the trap of the paternalistic story which centers on the power of water and its crucial role to the industry of Sheffield. Try to imagine it in a different way. That is why I like the idea of wise water. Because it speaks about something else, it speaks about the wisdom of the earth. Earth wisdom. Water speaks of deep time.

I have walked along the brook, where it’s walkable at least. As it runs under Ecclesall Road I can only follow small sections here and there, by the church by Hickmott Road where my daughters sang in the choir for many years. I peered into the sinkhole that appeared suddenly in the Decathlon car park catching a glimpse of the brook in daylight. But maybe I’ll drop the names here. They seem to stand in the way somehow.

The brook has two distinct identities. The adored, beautiful route it takes from its source, with the many paths that follow its journey cityward. Then as a buried version forgotten even by the industry it used to feed.

(Relating to the HEART)

I still see light occasionally. I even briefly represent the river Styx as I approach The General Cemetery that I run alongside for a while. You have to cross me to enter the land of the dead you see?

I don’t choose the route, it pulls me, I feel compelled to run this way. Other waters join me along the way and I will join others. I am plenty. I mean rich soil. I nurture, I cleanse, I bring joy and life.

I flow from my origin to my goal. Only my goal is my origin. I am circular. I am infinite while time is slowly erasing you. I am the life force of terra. I am brook. I am water. I am life. I am origin. I am fluid spirit. I am ancestor. I am the liquid in the primordial soup.

Thundering, running, tumbling, sliding, falling, rushing, pooling, eddying, evaporating, only to be born again, somewhere else. This watery space orb. This undeniably blue planet. I am the water that makes it so.

Some believe I originate from space. Some believe I came in on meteors when the planet was young but now they know I was here already, deep inside the earth locked into watery blue crystals, crystals that slowly ooze or sweat out water from the early earth’s mantle.

Like gut bacteria, like the bones of your ancestors. Water as mycelia in the earth, deep in the darkness. An illicit anarchic network, the mutualism of its circular system, that has so many bodies, forms and is active, always, even when still. Water as psyche. Our collective memory, force and source.

The wind is blowing through the treetops above, like waves crashing. It is beautiful and I can imagine the sea. I am transported there. Will you come?

(Relating to the GUT)

Gurgling, dripping, gushing, swishing, washing, flowing, babbling, hissing, crackling, popping. Consider water as it travels, transforms, melts. Glistening on hard surfaces, or creating conversations between rock and current. Cup your hands. We are the water in you too.

How does a watery goddess speak? We sigh of darkness and love and light dancing on our moving surfaces filtered by the trees above, green in summer and long, broken, black shapes in winter. We gurgle of great waves, tsunamis, of rivers and lakes, bird guts, travelling through kidneys, of becoming piss, snot, sweat and tears.

We rage, we snarl, we rush, we whisper, we were worshipped once. We offer freely and continue to penetrate all that is. Our springs were sacred and places of ritual. As rain we fell on one super continent, and we, a borderless sea lapped at its shores. We incubated life, until it could crawl out and onto land. The luxurious carboniferous forest, with mosses and ferns as tall as trees, shoals of fish and beds of molluscs along the edges of lagoons. Giant dragonflies flitting about, until the sea came and went, millennia by rhythmic millennia. All the lush decay from the forest became the coal seams.

Water is used for healing and for beer, for sacred rituals and a good wash, to quench thirst and for the turning of large wheels. People made offerings, made love and bathed their young in us so we washed the blood of your battlefields. We speak in channels made on the surfaces of stone. We speak in lake. In mud. In reflections.

We are oceanic. We remember everything. We remember all the cycles. We are ancient. We remember the lead, we remember the coal, we remember the dead, we remember the birds, the trees, the wild garlic, the bluebells, the dry leaves of autumn, cold grey skies of winter, we remember being cloud, being rain. Seeping slowly through strata of earth, of crystals, of geodes as big as cathedrals, trapped for millennia in darkness, yet always flowing, changing, shifting, shaping, molecule by molecule. We remember cities, massacres and lovers, farmland, meadows and shores. We remember the dark depths of deep seas, the molten forming of land, the trickle of springs, the thunder of falling long over rocks. We remember deserts and storms, thunder and lightning and being summer rain.

Come bathe with us.

We remember swelling up from the depths, growing in volume mixing with rain, nurturing, giving freely, and becoming hyphae, mushroom, plant, tree, human - part of all that lives and ever will.
We swallowed Atlantis and Poseidon.

Come bathe with us.

Becoming mists, pools reflecting the moon and stars. Chalk, clay. Canoes and tankers, oil rigs and trawlers, lilos and lidos. Mid-air falling cascades in mountains. Whirls, whorls, rings and ripples, licking or pounding coast lines. Swells and swills. Frost flowers on glass and frozen in glaciers and permafrost where we bide our time. Tides and tide races. Hugging island shores. Becoming gulfs and bays with sandy beaches, whispering of the mountains they once were.

‘Blue, here’s a shell for you Inside you’ll hear a sigh
A foggy lullaby
There is your song from me’1

1 From the album Blue performed by Joni Mitchell. Written by Joni Mitchell. Produced by Joni Mitchell. © 1971 Warner Records Inc.

On being of the Earth (Subtext)

(Relating to the ANUS)

Here, dislocation is a local feeling, getting lost underground is a birthright. Coalspeak is the native tongue, rooted in the lush Carboniferous forests that formed and grew here when this land was Pangaea, closer to the equator thousands of miles away.

It speaks lovewords misunderstood, loudly, softly, so clear as to be heard under the bells of churches. These were once brown bleak windswept shores, soundless now, they hide deeper. Come hide between the pockets of air lodged in the lushness of decaying organic matter, sky’s roof pressing down, crushing you deep below, pressing, flattening. Weight soured in an atmosphere of stone, head lay pillowed, pressed in arms of old, warm, low, golden sun drifting above while half smile grey clouds flow inward and dark spirals form dark interior. Imagine hardening, leaving behind given name, mind fading, repeating threads wrapping together like hot flames finding movement. Crumpled sunk struck, regrets gone, remember letting go and mountains slide past.

Until one day light broke through. Lights in the darkness, you heard my song soundless and airless for all this time. Digging, mining, buried, coughing up with stone grey split lungs, my buried bones no longer lost. Screams of water wheels. Indifferent to the stench of autumnal heat, to blood mixed with street life in coal blackened lungs. Bitumen spillage, subterranean carbon cityvillage. How its fires glow, sing, before the fingers of women, dance across troubled faces at night. Where for years the mountains stood caked in crumbled leaves now they blow smoke, scribed with slippery old dreams.

Beneath the earth, the internal space. Body amongst lava, organic matter and sea creature corpses in strata. Textured, extra sensory existence, willing outer temporal layers like visual vibrations. A spherical solid figure with lines, tidemarks, points and dots. Persephone, my dark mother, hear my call. I bring you offerings of spring flowers and black crystals, while triangular sephiroth glyphs on astral planes ingest half millennias and time curls in on itself. Speak to me of curiosity, flutters of the heart, the tingling of heightened awareness. Speak to me in wispy smoke from campfires, from the embers and sparks that fly into the night sky. Speak of lightness in mycelia, in networks, in systems, of mutuality.

(Heart tight and tongue very quietly licking the window pane)

© Lea Torp Nielsen, 2022.