“You were three years of water.” How deeply this resonates with me. It comes from bittersweet and intimate memories that I go over a lot mentally. I’m certain that anyone who reads those six simple words has their own encounter of a three year affair or event in their life. It doesn’t even matter.
This very short and sweet poem is from Nejma by Nayyirah Waheed. I truly admire her work and have written on it before. Like many of her other to the point poems, this one can have a very versatile meaning yet all the while keeping its wisdom. This is my perception I’m sharing:
I’d like to take a moment and use some imagery for the purpose of this post. Clear your mind of everything to imagine a green valley. Flourishing and full of life, nature has it that a stream flows through. Flourishing, full of life, and now fruitful for life to flourish… that stream becomes a river. It now bears a different weight and is cutting deeper within the valley. The wider the cut for more water to flow, the more life that comes but it’s not the same valley. It’s characteristics and needs are much different than when it started.
In life there are things that will happen and people you will meet, that are those soft waters. They may not cause a dent right away and it might not be negative at all but it will erode away some things. That’s only natural. It’s up to you as an individual to always be true to yourself and understand the beauty in an ever changing life.
There is something astounding you feel within when you share a certain kind of suffering with someone. It was naïve of me to think that there was no one else out there who’d understand my sentiments. Yet here we are. I’m a Nuyorican. And for anyone who doesn’t know what that is, it’s a Puerto Rican from New York. Yup — we have a name. Growing up apart of this community comes with its own way of life… like everyone else on earth.
I was able to really identify with the poem in this video because both the author, Noel Quiñones, and I had struggled with one of the same Nuyorican problems. Not speaking Spanish. All of what he mentions resonated deeply with me, some things more than others. Like for instance… it struck a nerve when he said it was like a countdown when you encountered someone who spoke Spanish to you or when he said, “it’s not lying if I feel something,” when I try to speak my “native” tongue. I hope you guys can enjoy it as thoroughly as I did. The video is below.
And I will say one last thing — people like us do belong. We create the identity of those like us and build our own space to thrive. And we don’t prevail even if it means using Google translator.
When Eve walked among the animals and named them — nightingale, red-shouldered hawk, fiddler crab, fallow deer — I wonder if she ever wanted them to speak back, looked into their wide wonderful eyes and whispered, “Name me, name me.”
– Ada Limón (1976)
I found this poem while riding the NYC subway. I was absolutely enraptured by this short poem and wanted to share it with you all. You can visit the MTA Arts & Design site by clicking here to view more poems and past poetry.