text

Of Tongues in
Shaded Streams

by Hanna Laura Kaljo

Looking back to the quiet creek in the bog behind her childhood home, Hanna Laura explores inner sources of renewal at the intersection of landscape, psyche and time.

Listen to this story narrated by the author

In the shadow of trees, a creek makes its winding way through a wetland. A child crouches down to its moss-covered bank, her feet subtly sink into the peat, hands rest between her beating heart and thighs. The sound of gentle breath joins the burble of water.

 

As if she had walked directly into the lap of the unknown. Only the unblinking eye of the bogsmith holds her in sight. The gravel road thirty steps behind her, which borders the bog, now feels kilometres away. Out there, the early morning sun warms black wooden fences, which neatly define one household from the next. Yet here daylight barely reaches the wet organic demise upon which she squats.  

 

Bathed in the smell of humid earth, decomposing bark, and sheltered by the canopy aboveground, she holds tender fear at bay. Her young body is a prayer to the creek. The stream yearns for the ocean and in seeking relieves what is stagnant. With a quickened heartbeat, she stands up and retreats, glad to reach the sunlit gravel road in late-June sweetness.

   

Where does the bog come from? Where is it going? As night falls, a dream draws the child to its embrace and renders the landscape a placeholder for a nine-thousand-year-old vegetal imagination. As morning dawns, the child’s mind arises from the shade of boundless mystery, akin to land emerging in post-glacial rebound.   

 

Twenty-two years later, whilst hurrying through a crowd of people on a dusty street adjacent to Tottenham Court Road Station, she stumbles across an invisible threshold into the bog. The shadows of trees cast themselves upon and within her. She comes to a halt, occasionally nudged by the warm bodies of passers-by. The latter seem unaware of walking on dark sedimentary ground where tarmac had been only a moment before. 

 

She takes a few quick steps, yet wherever she hops the peat seems unstable. Shortness of breath, a dim frame of mind, thoughts languish - the bog unfolds within her. No path in sight, no gravel road, she gradually surrenders to this sinking feeling. Where did she come from? Where is she going? 

 

As she quiets, the song of a burbling stream reaches her ear as salvation. In the centre of a wildly dense city, she squats on the bank of the quiet creek once again. Hands rest between her beating heart and thighs. She is bathed in the smell of humid earth, decomposing bark, and sheltered by the canopy aboveground. Her body is a prayer to the creek. The stream yearns for the ocean and in seeking relieves what is stagnant. Before long, a woman arises from the shade of boundless mystery, akin to land emerging in post-glacial rebound.

"Water is a way-finder in this world. As life begins to dry up and wither, we are flooded by grief and by an urge to create a source of renewal from within.” 

Malidoma P. Somé

CREDITS

Text

Hanna Laura Kaljo

 

Illustration

Anna Ruiz

Black and silver print on Japanese Awagami paper.

Dimensions 23cm x 18cm

 

2020. Tallin, Estonia

 

Published in July, 2020

Volume 3, Issue 2

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