Contributor Spotlight: Jenny Godwin

Jenny Godwin on "Promise Me Water"


My poem "Promise Me Water" featured in Issue 10 of Split Rock Review came to me at the peak of California’s drought. I write this essay on a plane leaving my now-home in Colorado to visit the town I wrote this poem in, Nevada City. It’s a much wetter world there in Northern California this Spring, no phantom gullies missing their waterfalls or wildflowers struggling to drink enough to bloom.

I wrote an enormous number of poems involving water during the three years I lived in California. It was instinctual, and maybe my own sort of water dance. Though I don’t consider myself religious, the feeling of rain cascading down after months of drought was truly the closest thing to holy I’ve ever felt. And that pull I experienced to water bodies during those months of intense drought felt spiritual. 

"Promise Me Water" arrived in pieces a few years ago as I sat by my former city’s trinity of river channels, the three forks of the mighty Yuba. I wanted an assurance these stream beds would fill up once again. The grass practically crackled that summer and the threat of fire was never far from us. When the water did finally come, I felt my body cracked open like a nut, and I literally did dance in the rain with friends. It was a technicolor experience. 

Now a Coloradan, deep in our own intense drought, my thoughts keep returning back to summer days spent on the Yuba, hoping for rain, watching how the river roared once fed.