Zuzanna Dominiak + Lindsay Ure

Her Water

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Calm yourself, they say, listen to your water.  Their white jackets and placid voices are more unnerving than the condition they tell her she has.  She lies alone, on a bed in a room.  They shut the door, lock her in.  She wills her water to her.

                Blue veins crack the white marble fireplace as they begin to move.  She watches their currents push tiny rivers from the stone onto the wall, to the floor, up to the ceiling, out of the window.  They grow like roots, knobby blue fingers threading the white walls.  Small drops rain down on her.  She smiles.  Water comes slowly over the wooden floor towards her, spilling from the walls, pooling, before it begins to rise to the lip of her bed.  The wrought-iron frame holds stready. She rises like the water and wades over  to the window, and looks out over the city.

                Water is crawling up the buildings; waves ebb, flow.  A full white moon bathes her face. The city is sinking.  She climbs out onto the window ledge, stands with her back against the wall, hands pressed palms down against rough sandstone.  Her hair wild, water licks her feet, wets her cotton nightshirt.  She takes a step away from the building, the water still rising. She dives: deep, deep down.  Small ticklish bubbles cling to her nightshirt.  The pull of the undertow is euphoric.

                Light and noise are swallowed, dimmed by the blue veil, muted by her water’s thickness. The city’s condition is her own: empty, yet full to the brim.

                When she opens her eyes they are standing over her, holding her down.  Thick leather straps tighten around her wrists.  Through the window she sees her city.  Noisy.  Dry.  

                   Calm yourself, they say, listen to your water.

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You think about them while sitting in the sun. The tip of your cigarette throbs orange between the grey of the growing ash as you inhale, sitting at a café, sipping your latte.  The noises around you are muted, quiet trams and foot traffic.  A bell mounted on a bike-handle chimes a cautionary chime. Wind pushes itself through the streets.  The morning light reflects off the canal in front of you.  It darts across the rippled water between swimming mallards and sinking leisure boats, shining up to the buildings pulled forward by the weight of their many windows.  The water sparkles as if covered with dimes.  

                 They are tall navy-coloured houses with decorative white trim, lining the canals, leaning into one another like narrow books stacked loosely on shelves.  You wonder how to describe them, their endearing unevenness, their lines attempting the elusive right angles.  How can you illustrate their originality?  As European as empty wine bottles, as crisp as tailored suits, as romantic as tulips in baskets on bikes…Bricked rivers flow under, beside, in front.  An arced bridge is a conversation between them.  You sip your latte.  They are exquisitely handsome yet oddly familiar, their grace stands unaffected.  They remind you of prostitutes tied upright to benches to sleep, but that reference does not do them justice; their beautiful dysfunction is too charming.  Next you try to imagine them as windmills tipped into one another, but then ask yourself what would happen to the overlapping blades; Victorian dollies on display; fat crows on telephone wires; crooked teeth in fat women’s mouths; or illustrations in a graphic novel about the life of Vermeer.  You decide that none work.  You need to be more economical in your phrasing.  ‘They lean’, you say to yourself.