Berry Grass




Let’s get to the point, like water does, rushing to fill all the spaces: this is about liquidity. What fills the spaces isn’t whether or not I am your daughter but whether or not I can afford to be your daughter. There are costs involved. The empty spaces are what writing teachers call "place." It is understood by the writing teachers that place is the bodies of water where you are from. It is understood that a father’s bottle of whiskey is itself a body of water. It is understood that until you surface, fluvial, in your womanhood there’ll be empty spaces. So 1mg of liquid injected into the delta of my thigh every other week is getting to the point. Meanwhile the water levels everywhere else are rising, and that’s getting to the point. The point is that this is about liquidity. What fills the spaces isn’t whether or not a space can be defined in thought but whether or not I can afford the box. What fills the spaces isn’t whether or not your many waters sustained me, Excelsior, but whether or not I can afford to live with your minerals in my blood. Am I obliged to your iron, am I in debt to your manganese. My alkaline inheritance.





"The waters of Excelsior Springs, MO, are sold only in bottles bearing copyright labels; never in cans, jugs or kegs. They are bottled by a process which does not permit them to come in contact with the air from the time they leave the spring until the corks are pulled; all medicinal properties are therefore retained practically unchanged."

"Drink the water at regular intervals, if possible.
Drink them slowly. Adopt, for the time at least,
rational habits of eating, drinking and exercise.
This will encourage the healing."

"A white attorney from Richmond told Travis Mellion,
a black farmer, that the yellow water 'ought to be good
for something' & suggested that he take some to give
to his sick daughter, Opal, who was cured within weeks."


"Public restrooms were in high demand
because of tourists buying bottles of
sulpho-saline water, not knowing
that it acts as a laxative."

"Settlers discovered these waters
and their remedial uses."

"A single bottle contains
101mg/l of bone-building calcium,
25mg/l of cardio-strengthening magnesium,
& 330mg/l of pH-balancing bicarbonates."

"Uncle Sam is buried
in Excelsior Springs."

"She is curing more disease with her matchless waters
than any six health resorts put together in the United States/
It is estimated that thirty thousand dollars are left in Excelsior Springs
each week by our prosperous visitors/ And all this, has for its cause or origin,          
the priceless virtues of Excelsior Springs waters/"




These two pieces are early pages from my forthcoming book—Hall of Waters—about my hometown of Excelsior Springs, MO, & usin its specificity to examine the larger toxicity of middle American whiteness. "True or False" is an assemblage of statements about Excelsior Springs from old articles & tourism advertisements. All of the quotes are authentic found/archived text, but some of them tell falsehoods or stretched truths about the town: which is, as we know, how dominant culture is maintained.