Fanmail – Nicole Walker

Quench Your Thirst With Salt


Dear Ms. Walker,

When I first began reading Quench Your Thirst With Salt I believed the cover art to be a photograph. Then the leaves’ shading caught my attention. I looked closely, held the book within a foot of my face, overcoming contact lenses badly in need of a new prescription. The cover art is a painting. I hadn’t been looking closely enough.

It seems you do not suffer from the myopia that plagues me. In Quench Your Thirst With Salt, you seem to see past, see beyond—you seem to posses a superhuman vision allowing you to discern the connections otherwise missed: a lump is simultaneously a landslide; an errant boyfriend could be a drunken father; oil-heavy shale is dense like infidelity; a potential totem is a predator.

The book always goes back to the earth, to its waters. You move from simile to metaphor, from comparing to becoming with sentences like, “I didn’t want to be like the Colorado, pooling up against a man-made border. I wanted my own borders. I wanted to be the shifting tectonic shelf, but I didn’t know how to do that.” The body is the land, for better and for worse.

This is not a let’s-hold-hands-sing-campfire-songs book about the interconnectivity of all things. It is also a book about change, about what is lost: “Transformation is a two part process: a combination of substitution and disappearance. The first element, the original, on its way to becoming something else, is no longer itself. The new element fully replaces the first. The first element: you can’t find it anywhere.”

With lines like those, Quench Your Thirst With Salt asks what we have done by dam—“(dame, lady, female parent, barrier checking the downward flower of water, bridge)”—ming the rivers. It asks how we have dammed(damned) our bodies. These are the important questions. They are the same question.

Ms. Walker, I cannot stop thinking about the water, and I live in a city that is wet year-round. Even the air is damp. I have gone swimming in springs near where water is supposedly bottled, contemplated both drinking and urinating in the clear pools. You have drawn my attention to the fact that in spite of this, or perhaps because of it, when I turn on the faucet in my home, the water tastes funny.


Alysia Sawchyn

 … return to Issue 8.3 Table of Contents.