The genealogy of tap water
Growing up in a city, drinking water smelling of chlorine
I always wish I had a story to tell that I am a child
of the Yangtze River or the Yellow Sea. Then I remember
how far I have been removed from these waters.
I listened to neighbours speaking
their ancestral rivers, lakes, oceans; some swear their pulses
still beat the rhythm of the sea.
I sigh, go home,
turn on the tap, make tea.
Let its warmth traverse my body
Quiet, clean, civilised, what path
have you meandered before arriving
to irrigate me, what are your stories before
you travelled through the pipes?
The ones of you collected from dammed rivers
or falling from the sky, the ones of
you purified, free of
toxic traces, the ones of
you desalinated, carrying no more
saltiness of home, and the ones of
you measured, priced to
a wet commodity, ubiquitous
But most of all, tell me of
the abundant worlds
you nourish —
the cartography of urban
infrastructures you cradle and
cleanse along the way.
cool steel pipes, it is my odd kin I taste
in the tea, brushing my lips
weaving the stories
into my body.
How I have taken you for granted
for so long. Might I call your name, tell
your watery memories, as I tell
And proudly claim my fluid lineage:
We are children of tap water.
Jamie Wang is an interdisciplinary researcher, writer and poet. She holds a PhD in Environmental Humanities and Cultural Studies from the University of Sydney. Across her research and creative works, she is interested in sustainable story-making towards the opening of other kinds of possible futures. For more information about Jamie’s research, please visit jamiewang.org.