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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

Ancestors Speak: Water

By: Ariana Kramer

There was a time

we knew

the gods

pour sacred brooks and rivers

out of bowls

and urns.

We prayed

on the river’s bank,

lit candles

at the brink of fountains,

laid down

our gifts

for the source

where wondrous water

leapt up

from the lap of earth.

We charmed springs

out of rock, by striking stone

with a staff

or horse’s hoof.

This we have always known:

Lakes cannot endure their depths gauged.

Wells and springs are guarded

by the snakes and dragons lying near them.

The sea is pure. She tolerates no blood.

In a storm, it is the ninth wave that sinks the ship.


Ariana Kramer’s poetry is inspired by the natural world and the inner landscape. Her poems have been published by The Poetry Box, Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art, Unlost Journal, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Riverfeet Press and Cirque.

*"Ancestors Speak: Water" belongs to a set of four poems: “Fire,” “Air,” “Earth,” and “Water” -- called collectively “Ancestors Speak.” These poems are based on text fragments from Teutonic Mythologie written by Jacob Grimm (1785 – 1863). Teutonic Mythologie is an encyclopedic recording of the beliefs and spiritual practices of the ancient Germanic peoples. First published in German in 1835, the four-volume set was translated into English by James Steven Stallybrass (1826–1888). Jacob and his brother Wilhelm are better known as the Brothers Grimm.

"My mother and her family were born in Germany, as was my German-Jewish paternal grandfather. I grew up hearing German, and the stories collected by the Brothers Grimm. When I first came across Teutonic Mythologie as an adult I felt my ancestors were speaking to me. I heard the language of an ancient way of understanding and relating to nature and the divine in and around us. I hope you hear it, too. "


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