Week 24

I’ve been chronicling my project with my wife on this blog. I’m going to write a sonnet series about the creation of California. I’m using the dual stories of William Mulholland and John Muir to tell the story of water in California, what really made it what it is. Ann’s a visual artist, so she’s going to do the graphic art work for it.

The poetry project is going in kind of strange direction right now. I’ve always known that all people are interconnected, just as all living things on Earth are. I mean that in an environmental and spiritual kind of way, but it turns out that people living in the Los Angeles area are a whole lot more interconnected than other people.

I was talking to my buddy in the water department months ago, taking notes and listening to what he had to say about water because he has a lot of interesting things to say on the subject. He’s worked with water for years and thought about it deeply.

Anyway, one note I had said that water goes through three people before it hits the sea. I hadn’t remembered writing it. It was fairly clear, but it also kind of shocked me. I had to write him back to see if that meant what I thought it did.

It turns out that water is scarce in the Los Angeles area. No surprise there. It turns out that each area more or less has its own discrete system for collecting and sanitizing water, and each city is getting as much water as it can out of the ground. What that means is that if a drop of water falls on the mountains, it passes through three or four city water systems, so yeah, it often will pass through three human beings.

There are some fairly disgusting implications to this, but some interesting ones as well. First we’re interconnected. Physically. And water picks up salt and the two are hard to separate. Those of you living down in Long Beach are likely carrying my salt and water in your bodies.

I’ll try to be a little more healthy.

More interesting to me, however, is that we all become our own little watershed. It’s surprising that in dry years rivers continue to run, but of course, water is caught in reservoirs, underground caves and aquifers, and the vegetation of the mountain. What I’d never thought of before is that we’re storing all that water as well. Briefly, sure, but it has to pass through three of us, so longer than it seems.

Who could want a more poetic subject, but it has to be handled correctly. Otherwise, this could turn into a gross kind of collection of poems.