stretch out legs,
begin to open breathe loudly
Welcome friends of the benthos. My fellow bottom dwellers and I thank you.
First, we acknowledge that we are on the traditional land of the Lenape people. We pay our respects to elders of the past and present who have stewarded this land throughout generations. The land on which we gather is the seized land of the Lenape people who have been displaced from their ancestral homelands.”
May we find age-old reciprocity with our many-voiced landscape.
Be with me on these trails - I ask for a curious quiet to fill us. Attend to your breaths- as you filter breath through your body from tip to tip, allowing for the air to touch you reciprocally. Lull your mouths to open to a multi-sensorial world that asks for you to experience it. Drop ideologies of human supremacy- see the Virginia Creeper in your capillaries, know your own steadfastness in the Wissahickon Schist. See you are lichen in a many layered body of micro to macro symbiosis. Co-occur with me and all in this forest.
Onto mud side
Cup Hands, draw water up and onto face.
I am Naiad, spirit of the Freshwater mussel, Alewife Floater. I have come with human language to urge your listening, and your becoming benthic. I experience my own flesh as human in relation to yours, for you to find kinship with me, and soon beyond. There is no instruction to become benthic - it is a beingness which liberates boundaries for being mush with all things. Think with the juices of your body, decompose a dogma of self, of human. Sink your matter into a between world, into the Benthos.
Benthic “between”ness is an unstable site, the region between terrestrial and aquatic worlds. This is a place of land and water, it is a “between” and an “among”. It does not negate the seeming binaries but unites them. Benthos allows for all the positions within that surround and rupture binaries. Benthos is the animals which look like rocks, the animals whose homes are future limestone, those whose beingness is questioned, ignored or exploited. We of the Benthos exist simultaneously between and outside – we are unplace-able.
When Anodonta implicata surprises with a bed in the Delaware- a fish ladder dam allowed alewife to extend our livelihoods into future possibilities. We are a nearly sessile folk- expending ourselves greatly as we drag our covered bodies through sediment with our tongue foot. We reside in fragile permanence, requiring survival with interspecies symbiosis, we ask our fish kin to deliver us to new migrations. We cannot simply flee contamination- we are denied agency over our own homes as our waters warm, our riparian shade disapears, as silt builds and suffocates our bodies, as invaders starve us. We as why we perish in your economy of use. We of the benthos ask for interspecies survival with human - for consideration in your own practices. Out of neccessity for you and all clean rivers, of which we keep house- making all benthic and aquatic and land being possible - but also we ask through care and generosity - a reciprical life is not composed of owing or debt- this only leads to exploitation and death. Reconciliation with yours and ours ecological hoes requires reciprocity of heart- give you spirit away to the great untold bentho- in which our bodies disperse
for interconnected self soup in communion with all biotic and abiotic. Here it is the benthos.
Step into pond
In this planned city of possible utopia, I stress, nothing is inevitable. As river’s were dredged with nets to carry us in by the hundreds- for you to punch buttons out of our hard skins- as today you pulverize us to implant in other exploited bivalves. The freshwater mussel kinfolks ask you to see your history as inextricably linked to ours and all. This is not inevitable. Embedded here- in temporal simultaneity and temporary simultaneity we breathe in molecules of water that cross human boundaries, allowing life throughout. This body is circulating waters that graze your skin in the rain, lapping up in our rivers- homes to eons of molecular autonomy. Presently we cup the watershed into our mouths, it touches our skin with care
After an age of industrial waste and of yellow fever, these sacred waters give thanks for renewed systems of thriving - diversions of impounded flow for our desired freedom - in this site of forest and first waters - we ask continued strength of our bodies together, remediating the earth and forging reconciliation