Geohydrological speculations of a changing world

Air Terjun by Abdullah Suriosubroto (WikiArt/CC)

“…go by yourself across

the forty fields and the forty dark inclines
of rocks and water to the place where
the falls are flinging out their white sheets

like crazy, and there is a cave behind all that
jubilation and water fun and you can
stand there, under it, and roar all you

want and nothing will be disturbed;”
- from The Poet With His Face In His Hands by Mary Oliver

The misleadingly steady rock shifts underfoot, an uncontrolled leap towards the shoreline, the hidden bamboo branch catches shirt fabric unforgivingly. I curse out into the jungle as I…

Poetic Habitation, Potentiality, and Quarantine

Aquamarine by Maxfield Parrish, 1917 (source)

There is a strange sense that the outside world has become increasingly unclean, as though a few minutes beyond the confines of our homes means we must wash our hands ten times over. We cover our faces with masks and our hands with gloves (even if we can’t stop ourselves from checking our phones every few minutes). We steer clear of others with a wide breadth when we happen to pass them in the only outdoor spaces deemed ‘acceptable’ for our desperately needed exercise. Windows and computer screens become spaces for emergence while grocery stores regulate themselves into places of…

Commitments, Perception, and Hummus

The bath of Diana, Van Diemen’s Land, 1837 by John Glover (source)

Standing on the hanging bridge that bounces with every footstep, there exists a non-silence as the water flows in fits and rages between stones. The river draws towards us from between the two shorelines, marked by geometrical stones and sporadic foliage. A couple nearby chatters about their lunch, a child presses there head between the bars, a man checks his watch while reading the time estimates for the two treks up the Gorge. I wonder about the history of this place now uniquely designed for tourists to meander and leisure. As we continue forward, paths seem to vanish into foliage…

Emergent entities, anticipation, and handshakes

Pygmalion et Galatée by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1890 (source)

A hand reaches out, my hand, your hand, an eerie hand from whence we came. There is something particularly warm in the unfamiliar, a sensation of what could be from what was. Chattering emanates from the adjacent room, the grinding of coffee beans disrupts the stillness, we laugh about the whole scene after a week… or is it a month. Another hand, this one covered in paint, emerges after a moment of anticipation and finds its way comfortably on a mantle to be admired and daydreamed of. ‘To make art is to interfere directly with the realm of causes and…

Communication, Speculative Data, and Beach Picnics

Running With The Wind by Clarice Beckett (source)

Rushing across the flowing waters, the wind picks up the river and drags waves across the beach, throwing spray into the sun-warmed air. The sand is stiff from the recently receded tide and the rustling leaves whisper a chorus into the air. A comment is made about communication, of complete and utter honesty, of presence and awareness, of an openness that is both revealing and certain. Another river wave dashes inward. As our light footprints trail behind, an unsilent silence passes between us. Our eyes drift outward to the sailed vessels harnessing the howling movements. An aroma of the sea…

Attachment, translocation, and cappuccino foam

Marooned (2016), Amber Koroluk-Stephenson (source: Artist’s website)

The sky has been gray since I woke up this morning, a looming presence unyielding to the sun’s intensity. Sitting in an unfamiliar chair, the wood table round, my flesh cold, I try to place words on pages once again. Over the course of a few months, I traded one island for another, one life for another, one collection of intimacies for another. There is no cat watching me type, at least for the time being. There is no deep blue sea outside the windows. There are no routines dictating my everyday. There are no attachments. Gazing outside I notice…

Aloofness, birds, and waiting

Девятый вал (The Ninth Wave) by Ivan Aivazovsky (source: Wikimedia)

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.
~ from Everything is Waiting for You by David Whyte

With the blank page staring back at me, I struggle to find a single word to make sense of the echoes inside my heart mind. Like trying to answer an unheard question, I fumble around…

Rainfall, attachment, and beauty

Storm, Bahamas by Winslow Homer (source: Wikiart)

I’m not sure what I am doing, scrolling scrolling scrolling, looking for something in particular, but nothing specific, words maybe, to make you smile or think or just acknowledge that I’m here thinking of you. Without settling on whatever it could have been, I lock the phone and move to the back screen door to watch the gray sky rain down on the palm trees standing tall on the ridgeline. The echoing off the corrugated steel carport mixes with the hum of the oscillating fan with the softest of cat noises. …

Fires, non-native deers, and reincarnation

Archival reproduction of Folio Collection of prints from the Frycinet voyage by A. Pellion titled “Traditional Customs Of The Chamorro Classes” circa 1835 (source: Fine Art America)

Ma susede un desgråsia — An unfortunate incident occurred
as Malilok na lugåt. — at a place called Malilok.
Ya ti ilek-ho na ti un måtai, — I never said you would never die,
na un måtai naturåt.[1]only that you would die naturally.
– Unknown composer

The landscape is unfamiliar, my hands uncertain of which stones sit securely in the fragile soils, the call of birds unrecognizable to my ears, each scaled cliff offering withdrawn knowledge. Only the first few pages of the waterproof notebook contain data, mostly just observations of waterfalls and eroding stream banks with the…

Liquid spatiality, Volumetric materialities, and Wet ontologies

The Triumph of Venus by François Boucher (Source: Wikimedia)

Breathing in and out through my regulator, the bubbles flutter past the sealed mask, muffled through the omnipresent liquidness that is the Underwater, rising towards the overhead defined by the perpetual motion of light refracting through waves. In the distance, a luminescent parrotfish takes a few bites out of a stressed branching coral before darting through limestone remains and vanishing into the dark blues and murky shallows. Letting out another breath, I sink even deeper before, unbeknownst to me, a cloud of sand is kicked up causing me to twist around from the glint in the corner of the mask…

Malcolm Johnson

Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Tasmania, studying climate change adaptation, risk perspectives, and coastalscape values.

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