“Water Snakes or Medusa,” by Keah Hansen


The views expressed in the texts do not necessarily represent the views of the artist.


She asked, “Why is it that women are always drowning?”

And Kate Chopin replied, “The voice of the sea speaks to [her] soul.”

And this soul seemed to wash out over the sidewalks like leafs held by puddles. They were singularly beautiful and flickered in the mid-afternoon sun and then almost jumped like fish in a koi pond. I thought of that good Lady of Shalott as a leaf, perhaps oak, swirling in a soapy green dress then resting amongst the reeds and silt. A body proffered to the sublime. The “dark continent.” The flumes of smoke that rest on eyelids or the foams that fork the beach into bits that yield and bits that take. The water admitted her hunger, spit it out with opal teeth, and the subconscious grasped another victim. But who, I wondered, had first moulded water into a woman?

I walked home and broke eggs in a pan. They sung and floated merrily in butter. I asked aloud, “Who would have the audacity to decide on a woman’s body or soul?”

And these words sizzled like life itself on the floorboards. They scratched the ears of my cat mindlessly and drew quizzical circles of soapy water on the moon-shaped plate in the sink. This soul seemed to hide inside the crinkles of the tissues. Or the steam from a lavender-scented bath. It even nestled in the roots of the houseplant when fed droplets from the dripping tap. But I was ravenous so I ate and thought and moved my body through the kitchen, falling into the news headlines and letting the water recede to wreak havoc in the basement.

Then a nasally voice bleated, “Storm warning in effect.” It was Clorox, which smartened up the murky underpinnings of each woman in her home, breaking eggs into pans and thinking. At this point, I used my tissues and waded into a bath soaked with the sounds of violin and imagined myself a muse then invoked all the saints of this city. The secular and sacred vied for me and I wondered which institution would best house my eyes and swaddle my soul in warm linen, made to look like silk.

I glanced outside and saw teardrops clawing at the windowpane and gathering strength in the rivets thrush against the vines. Then I heard the strength of a voice, and another, break through this window and worm into my submerged ears. It was the distinct sound of soul, not misty nor desperate but full as wildflowers bunched with string. I hunched my shoulders and raised myself, steaming, from that bath and pressed my forehead to the window. The tears had morphed back to rain, and there were women, not woman, moving through the streets with volition. The puddles remained but the leafs were trodden upon and the moving mouths were buttresses for all types of watery symbols.

I dried my legs and arms in time and gently pressed a towel against my wide eyes. Then I donned some clothes and linked with someone’s hand, though my hair still gleamed with wetness.


these words by Keah Hansen were inspired by the art of Sonia Alins Miguel

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