The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the
hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice.
“Who are you?” said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I—I hardly know,
Sir, just at present—at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have
changed several times since then.”
“What do you mean by that?” said the Caterpillar, sternly. “Explain yourself!”
“I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, Sir,” said Alice, “because I’m not myself, you see.”
“I don’t see,” said the Caterpillar.
“I’m afraid I can’t put it more clearly,” Alice replied, very politely, “for I can’t understand it myself, to begin with;
and being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.”
“It isn’t,” said the Caterpillar.
“Well, perhaps you haven’t found it so yet,” said Alice; “but when you have to turn into a chrysalis—
you will someday, you know—and then after that into a butterfly, I should think you’ll feel it a little queer, won’t you?”
from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The Water Whisperer
I am the fluid in the bottle coloured boy and girl drink me to escape bursting tall or small, square or
sharp, sky-winged or lake-laced.
Drink me and I’ll take you to a grin as wide as a mine and as deep the Treasure Catfish has grown
gills instead of gold, so is it really a grin or a cadaveric spasm upturned to the light?
When the lagoon bled out names from its ancestral lands, spat white gas and blue grass, I was the
one that curled up in the hollow of its throat and listened
and finally spoke with a thousand shining tongues, not tangled like sea snakes but as rough as aquatic
hares equally at home on dry land I then laughed about secondary drowning.
When you swam away in my tears, survived my body leaking, I knew I must rule the contours of my
face, and its scores that linked me to the furrows of my doing palms. I became the Queen of Clubbed
Hands and punched hard below the waterline.
Mapping and napping as we fled, tireless in our work to mark the body shamed by hills and caves that
erupt between our legs and from the corners of our chests pointing also below the waterline
where underwater croquet and lack of understanding played out to the brink of war. This war
quivered in the bodies of women with gold nooses on their fingers and explosive fins.
This is the story of a girl who fell in love with her voice and not down a hole.
This is a tale of two genders whose flow and softness also corrodes.
This is the cartographers dream in which periscope becomes pen.
This is where the Looking Glass lives, broken by waves roused by the mother's breath.
I am Alice the activist, I am Alice in arms, I am Alice of Aqualand- Queen of Me, Myself & I.
© 2023 Sujatha Menon