April 2 Poetry Prompt – The Element of Water

In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time. – Leonardo da Vinci 

The ancients in many traditions built philosophies and sciences based around the concept of primordial elements – in the West, these are common denominators such as water, earth, air and fire (other traditions differed and sometimes added a fifth: aether, akasha, life, spirit, chaos, nothingness).  

For today’s exercise, explore the flow of your life and make a poem from the element of water. Warm up if you like by writing out a quick list of water associations. Here’s mine: 

flow, transition, vapor, liquid, solid, purification, frogs, intuition, renewal, motion, clarity, muddiness, refreshment, fishbowl, mystery, stillness, reflection, depth, bath, rot, immersion, amniotic, baptism, primordial source, sensitivity, poison, solvent, womb, moon, tides, naiad, siren, mermaid, rain, spring, lake, pond, river, swamp, formlessness, fish, the Russian River, the Nile, Lethe, lotus, subconscious, the unspoken, aquarium, feeling, emotion, flood, tsunami, waterfall, rebirth, tears, blue, green, eye, brain, blood, bottom-feeders, wave, ripple, droplet, Mason jar 


All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. – Toni Morrison 

Here are some questions you might ask yourself as you think about the associations, behavior and properties of water: 

* what significant events have happened to you near or around water?

* what moves you emotionally?

* where are you contained, and where do you overflow?

* what transitions from one state to another can you speak of?

* where are things stagnant?

* where do you feel tugged, and how? like the tide? or downstream?

* where are you forever trying to get back to? 

Consider this excerpt from T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland,” where a metaphor of water explores the question of faith: 

       If there were water

       And no rock

       If there were rock

       And also water

       And water

       A spring

       A pool among the rock

       If there were the sound of water only

       Not the cicada

       And dry grass singing

       But sound of water over a rock

       Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees

       Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop

       But there is no water 

We all know that we’re mostly made of water. Tell the story of yours.

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2 Responses to April 2 Poetry Prompt – The Element of Water

  1. Another exquisite post / prompt. You had me right to the end – “We all know that we’re mostly made of water. Tell the story of yours.”

    I love water (hence the title of my blog: Swimming in Lines of Haiku – which actually came from a dream) the sounds and smells it creates, the movement of itself and through many forms. I enjoy the freedom I feel when swimming, being weightless, held and caressed by the water, and find I always need to live by water (right now I’m about a 10 minute walk from the beach).

    I’ve done my associations and now looking at the questions. What comes to mind straight away is a drowning I was involved in many years ago. I pulled a young boy from a public pool and I’ve never known if he lived (he was worked on by life guards pool side then taken away in an air ambulance). I’ve tried to write about it before but it just didn’t come out right. Maybe this will be the way / place that will set this story of mine free.

    Thanks again, Jennie. You’re doing a stellar job.

  2. Pingback: April 7 Poetry Prompt – The Element of Earth | InkSeeds

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