I mean river as a verb. A happening. It is moving within me
This is not juxtaposition. Body and water are not two unlike
things — they are more than close together or side by side. They are
same — body, being, energy, prayer, current, motion, medicine.
This knowing comes from acknowledging the human body
has more than six senses. The body is beyond six senses. Is
sensual. Is always an ecstatic state of energy, is always on the
verge of praying, or entering any river of movement.
Energy is a moving like a river moving my moving body.
In Mojave thinking, body and land are the same. The words
are separated only by letters: ’iimat for body, ’amat for land.
In conversation, we often use a shortened form for each: mat-.
Unless you know the context of a conversation, you might
not know if we are speaking about our body or our land. You
might not know which has been injured, which is remembering, which is alive, which was dreamed, which needs care,
which has vanished.
If I say, My river is disappearing, do I also mean, My people
How can I translate— not in words but in belief — that a river
is a body, as alive as you or I, that there can be no life without it?
John Berger wrote true translation is not a binary affair between
two languages but a triangular affair. The third point of the triangle being what lay behind the words of the original text before it
was written. True translation demands a return to the pre-verbal.
Between the English translation I o=ered, and the urging I
felt to first type ’Aha Makav in the lines above, is not the point
where this story ends or begins.
We must go to the place before those two points — we must go
to the third place that is the river.
We must go to the point of the lance our creator stabbed into
the earth, and the first river bursting from that clay body
into mine. We must submerge beneath those once warm red
waters now channeled-blue and cool, the current’s endless
yards of emerald silk wrapping the body and moving it, swift
enough to take life or give it.
We must go until we smell the black-root-wet anchoring the
river’s mud banks.
What is this third point, this place beyond the surface, if
not the deep-cut and crooked bone-bed where the Colorado
River runs — like a one thousand four hundred and fifty mile
thirst — into and through a body?
Berger called it the pre-verbal. Pre-verbal as in the body when
the body was more than body. Before it could name itself body
and be limited to the space body indicated.
Pre-verbal is the place where the body was yet a green-blue
energy greening, greened, and bluing the stone, the floodwaters,
the razorback fish, the beetle, and the cottonwoods’ and willows’
Pre-verbal was when the body was more than a body and
One of its possibilities was to hold a river within it.
A river is a body of water. It has a foot, an elbow, a mouth.
It runs. It lies in a bed. It can make you good. It remembers
America is a land of bad math and science: the Right believes
Rapture will save them from the violence they are delivering
upon the earth and water; the Left believes technology, the
same technology wrecking the earth and water, will save them
from the wreckage or help them build a new world on Mars.
If I was created to hold the Colorado River, to carry its rushing
inside me, how can I say who I am if the river is gone?