Beatrix GatesThere’s a drought here in Maine, and lately I’ve been studying a seep in the backfield. A seep is a moist or wet place where water, usually groundwater, reaches the earth’s surface from an underground aquifer and pools in a depression. A seep will be found quickly by wildlife and bring new birds and animals to the area. There is every sign that’s true.

As for the drought, we’re eight inches below normal rainfall, fire danger’s high and there’s trouble with a number of crops. Talking with Blaine Wardwell on his family’s oil delivery route, I noted that the leaves on the apple trees were an early yellow. He said the trees will sacrifice the leaves for the fruit. The roots of the apple tree are very deep and the orchards have needed watering, unheard of, or very rare. At the Blue Hill Public Library, the well ran dry. Striking in a small town, the library is a hub (a watering hole if you will) enjoying many steady customers, local and people from away. Having the well run dry was a constant reminder of the state of drought.

Safe, clean water is our most valuable, most necessary, and most threatened natural resource. Knowing how to find water is a skill and learning to sense the earth carefully is part of the skill required. Dowsing is an honored tradition and The Northern Maine chapter of the American Society of Dowsers meets every 3rd Saturday in Winter Harbor. I had watched the seep for years and assumed, wrongly, that it harbored a spring. Not so fast, it seems.

The verb seep sounds like itself, but as a noun, seep has a finality that water does not enjoy.

SEEP: seeped, seep·ing, seeps.

1. To pass slowly through small openings or pores; ooze: Water is seeping into the basement. 2. To enter, depart, or become diffused gradually: The importance of the situation finally seeped into my brain.

The message can arrive through an aquifer, slow and steady; and sometimes through another source disappearing, the smaller ways through become the lasting ways.

The seep is the place to start looking for change and steadiness, and this seep has been constant in the backfield, since I arrived on this land over ten years ago and long before. When the water line goes down extending the mud at the edge, the animal tracks are clear.

During the drought the seep has been an important source of water for the animals. Their footprints are all around the edges, small and large, deep and light, claws and hooves, pads and the drag of tails, visible as they come at different times of day to drink. I wonder how they find the seep. The information gets passed on, for sure.  Is it the sound of water, or animal paths to the same spot gone over and matted down in the dark—one leading another?  Is it the sound of the seep calling with peepers and frogs speaking from the muck? What is the sound of life in the muck?

Begin in a place of frustration and allow the forces around you to enter. Look for the footprints. You may be part of something larger. Community may not be where you think or expect.

Last week, a dear friend had a blood seep in her brain. She is out of danger now. They still don’t know where it came from, the cause, but it has stopped. It could have been too much aspirin thinning her blood.

In this instance the seep could have been fatal.

Communication was key and timing. The veins carried the information.

She’s on the mend in New York City, thanks to her own quick call downstairs to a doorman who’s the kind who can handle anything (Doorman who could be President). New York City smarts: Sit down, leave the apt door open, I’m calling 911. He then called her daughter, and the two of them rode to the hospital together. He saved her life.

The line to the desk downstairs, a vein in the communication aquifer, as is 911, and the trip to Lenox Hill within ten minutes: the procedure to drill a hole in her skull and drain the blood within minutes of arrival. The immediate gathering of loving and concerned around her, including the 24/7 ICU nursing.

What is intensive care?

A seep is dangerous. A seep is life giving.

And understanding between all the parts.

Now all the loving circle are on the same page.

All the animals have come to the seep to drink in the dark having heard the underground calling.

The Seep, October 8-20, 2016
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Beatrix Gates

Beatrix Gates’ poetry collections include Dos (Finishing Line Press, 2014); Ten Minutes and In the Open. Gates, with Electa Arenal, translated Jesús Aguado’s The Poems of Vikram Babu (HOST), and received a Witter Bynner Award. A fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Ucross and VCCA, Gates’ poetry has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Bloom, Tupelo Quarterly 3, Ploughshares and THE WORLD IN US: Lesbian & Gay Poetry of the Next Wave. Librettist and conceiver of the opera, The Singing Bridge, Gates shared support with composer Anna Dembska from the NEA; Davis & LEF Foundations for the premiere at the Stonington Opera House. Gates edited The Wild Good: Lesbian Writings andPhotographs on Love and founded Granite Press, publisher of the bilingual IXOK AMAR.GO, Central American Women Poets for Peace.

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9 thoughts on “The Seep, October 8-20, 2016

  • October 29, 2016 at 5:59 pm
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    Love the back and forth Bea, straightforward and musical – ethereal and grounded in love for life.

  • October 24, 2016 at 12:21 pm
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    Lovely – and wonderful to ‘hear’ your distinctive voice, Bea. Thank you for posting this

  • October 24, 2016 at 12:10 pm
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    “Is it the sound of the seep calling with peepers and frogs speaking from the muck?” That is my favorite line from this piece Bea. Dangerous and life giving, the layers of this slowly reveal themselves. Thank you for posting!

  • October 24, 2016 at 11:53 am
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    A lovely piece!

  • October 24, 2016 at 11:08 am
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    WOw!
    That woke me up, after already awake.
    Thank you.

  • October 24, 2016 at 10:48 am
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    a startling and rich meditation. Love how it seep outside its borders.

  • October 24, 2016 at 8:42 am
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    Simply wonderful!

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