Water is life. The Earth is covered in water. We are made of water. Author Pat Mora explores the many environments of water with gentle, evocative verse and beautiful mixed media illustrations by Meilo So in Water Rolls, Water Rises / El agua rueda, el agua sube.
In a series of three line stanzas, presented first in English, then Spanish, Mora celebrates the beauty of water in many forms and locations around the world. “Water rises/ into soft fog,/ weaves down the street, strokes an old cat.” Mora provokes strong imagery with her choice of language. This stanza brings to mind the opening of Carl Sandburg’s “Fog” which goes, “The fog comes/ on little cat feet.” Readers familiar with the older poem will feel the recollection and get the imagery of the feline fog. Newer readers or listeners are given a chance to make the connection between the mild attitude of the fog and the elderly cat.
Another stanza makes good use of alliteration. “Slow into rivers,/ water slithers and snakes/ through silent canyons at twilight and dawn.” The repetition of the “s” sound provoke the image of a curling river. The effect of these temperate stanzas, all of which roll smoothly off the tongue when read aloud, is to inspire feelings of calm and contentment.
While water is the star of Mora’s poem, it takes many forms, which readers and listeners can recognize. Mora highlights weather such as fog and storms, bodies of water from ocean waves to forest streams and evokes archetypal images so that readers and listeners can easily imagine the world being described as the world that surrounds them.
Paired with Meilo So’s gorgeous illustrations inspired by real-life locations around the world, Mora’s verse suggests a variety of moods and thoughts. “Down smooth canals,” framed by So’s tulips and corn, brought to my mind the dawn, rising over the water and revealing the windmill in the background. “In the murmur of marsh wind,/ water slumbers on moss,” give to me a late afternoon breeze, as the sun starts to go down.
Backmatter, also presented bilingually, includes an author’s note from Mora detailing her inspirations, and a tour through the book’s illustrations and their real-life counterparts.
While Water Rolls, Water Rises does not take a seasonal structure, it does lend itself to seasonal readings, especially when taken a piece at a time. One stanza reads:
“Swirling in wisps,
water twists then it twirls,
frosts scattered dry leaves, rubs lonely, bare trees.”
Obviously, this brings to mind the fall, with the fallen leaves and crisp, frosty mornings. As there are many poetry books available that do present a seasonal structure, I would love to use Water Rolls, Water Rises, in conjunction with other titles (such as Hi, Koo by Jon J. Muth), in forming some seasonal poetry. I would start with gathering words that evoke a season through the senses. What do you smell in summer? What do you feel in winter? We can collect these words and blend them with seasonal memories.