Water as it Relates to Rock

An Environmental Studies/Education Double Thesis

Water as it Relates to Rock: An Environmental Studies/Education Double Thesis

Myself: Your water cycle poster is crooked.
(My mother, translated: What have I told you about wearing those ripped pants here?)
But mostly myself: Things aren’t easy to mend when you’re only given all of the wrong words to work with.
(My mother, translated: I’ve always hated alliteration.)

I learned how to love very young. So, so young. I came out of the womb loving, breathing lightly, stepping one toe at a time, eyes wide open, and lips sewn shut. I would tell about how much it hurt to rip them open when I had to, but I don’t want to simply give away an idea that concrete without the natural ebb and flow of situational learning to temper it. That is something no being I’ve encountered thus far deserves.
I have loved in silence for so long and I have reached so far into my own throat in search of my tongue that I’ve had stars just float by, into my very palms and then out again as they continue their journeys, because that’s how quiet and still and un-disturbing my love was. From birth.
I wanted to love in silence forever. When I ground up glass shards into fine scintillating powder, the skin that wore off of my hands got lost in the mulch of star dust and blood and salt and the sight of the remaining paste pulled sound from my throat—Which definition of destruction is this?— it’s horror too great to leave me in anything other than wonder.
Is this my final form? I want to ask my reflection but find my surroundings too dull to be able to speak back to my probing eyes. I do not want to ask anyone else. I do not need to ask anyone else. I do not ask anyone else. I whisper it to myself and let the brushing contact of my newly torn lips become familiar to me.

The trick is to hold the breath and the tongue but not in the same hand, and without leaning in too far. Centers of gravity are sensitive to even minor shifts, like elementary students when you have a new haircut—one small concept offsets you into a tumble that carries itself.
The trick is not to ask: why do waves crest? When you can ask: Do waves crest in every language, or just this one? Do waves crest the same way in the dark? Do they crest the same way when they’re young as they do when they’re old?
The trick, in the end, is to be the vessel that’s carrying me. Do you have any idea how difficult that is?

There was a space once. But before that, there was a solid. A compact made of so many star-like grains, so compressed that every angle betrayed a different sparkle. Next to it was another solid. Two scintillating compacts, side by side. Too warm to be stone, too gold to be sand. Eventually, I noticed that they were not in fact two objects exactly side by side. They were just one large sandstone, blemished, gaping a bit in the middle. But it looked like two pieces. Two solid masses. And it looked like in between the two
there was this space. And that’s where this all begins.
Situation is just a combination of timing and circumstance. And some truisms, like: the deeper you reach, the more dangerous you are when you expand. So imagine this situation: an expansion to you, an explosion to a solid, too warm to be stone, too gold to be sand, but somehow both. Imagine a reach that only goes deeper (Like a needle? Yes, raise your hand next time, but yes, like a needle) a reach that widens and grows. Imagine an imperfection in sandstone. A blemish, at first. A bit of gaping, of separation, of space.
I tried to love this space. I gave it my fingers, but it rejected them (all of them, even the little one). I gave it my spine but it wanted nothing to do with that, so I gave it my heart (in case it likes things on the softer side, you know how inexplicable taste can be) and it turned it away, bruised, the way solids always return too-soft things. And so I thought the problem must be me, and I began to change. Remold for the space, reconfigure for it. It was an odd sort of reaching.
And so naturally, eventually, I hated it. And I hated it for so long, the solid, the
space, all of it (Ooh you’re not supposed to say ‘hate’!!!! I know, but). I just hated and hated and hated and hated—

To sublimate is to suddenly find yourself free of all confines of space you ever believed in. It’s to become more one with yourself by falling to pieces, but not falling as in tripping, and down, and ouch, and those were my best pants goddamnit, but falling out. Spiraling the way spirals do: in, yes, but also out and always forever, forever both. What could be more complete? What could be more like this idea of beauty, as if something like beauty could ever be as universal as a perfect spiral?
To succumb to deposition is to find yourself too heavy to simply hang in thespace anymore, to find that perfect spirals are for the people who made the word
beauty—within the restrictions of their poorly constructed language, without the freedom
of knowing the world in all of it’s endless directions. It’s to find that injustice stays with you at night—yes, even at night! And you always thought you were such a good sleeper, but yes, even at night it has this weight. Did you think the pull of the earth was something you could run from in the dark?
To precipitate is to force your hell-scape onto everything, to scream the quietest most pervasive scream you can conjure and find unexpected souls leaning into the sound, reaching down into it’s depths and drawing life.

To freeze.

Lattice is a word that belongs in children’s books. It’s delicate and delightful and
round in a way that’s invisible to the page. To say lattice is to point to the heirloom lace shawl your mother says (translated) you can have when she’s dead, or when you learn to replicate it—which ever comes first—but before then keep your dirty paws off. To say lattice is to smile at your students when they’ve finally listened long enough to have untangled their limbs, to find themselves able to pull outward, still linked by hand, into a perfect spacious circle. To say lattice at 0 degrees Celsius is to expand. To reach out the way explosions do. To detonate in defiance.

I had more to say, but I should probably just say my thank you’s, and my thank you’s should probably be reserved for my mom. Loving in silence, it turns out, is not as transformative as vocalizing gratitude. This one’s for her. If you’re somehow reading this somewhere near her, please let her know. I don’t think she knows.

I read a book once where there were barely any words. Barely any anchors at all. You couldn’t even tell which way to hold it. Tether-less as I was, I tried to imagine it in any direction, written by anybody, in any language, no up or down, no beginning, no end. And I just found myself in love with that.
No beginning. No end. Most things aren’t like that.


This is my own work. These lab mice died of swollen, broken hearts

Cómo que mire : AzTexts from the
Codex M

A poet of rhetoric and ethnography, Steven Alvarez brings an “outsider” linguistic perspective into his writing, which speaks to the contemporary “post”-Chicano experience.


#414 used to think he was destined for the rose fields of Grasse. Musk ratios. Narcotic fumes. Extracting of the absolute. But he never learned French, was the thing.