Cress: to swallow; appetite; sustenance; the energy of taking the world into oneself at exactly the point at which it is offered. The word rises from the sympathetic magic with which the body, without the agency of language, responds to the world by connecting recognition of its physical responses to corresponding flows of energy in the world. Cress is also abundantly productive, whether regular cress or water cress (below), and comes early in the year. It is, in short, like human bodies themselves, the energy of the year opening long before the sun finds a home within the land and stirs there. Its current use as a botanical noun doesn’t diminish cress’s force, but it does separate it into components, such as appetite, hunger, spring, growth, season, and many others, which are then strung together in narrative sentences, where before there were moments of unity and illumination, and poetry. Cress, poetry, bodies and water remain one.

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Watercress in the January Snow, Okanagan Landing, British Columbia

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