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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Waters of March (Children Mentioned)

When the twins turned one, Josh made a video montage from their first year and set it to the song "Waters of March" by Antonio Carlos Jobim. It's a favourite song that we played many times during our first round of trying to conceive and summed up my feelings on infertility after we finally became pregnant and carried (mostly) to term. A few weeks before the children were born, I made a wall-hanging to give Josh for Father's Day and the picture now hangs in their room.

Because the song was originally written in Portuguese, there have been many liberties taken with the translation. The version we like is sung by Susannah McCorkle (you can hear a clip by clicking on her name and then choosing the first song on the list). I have bolded the phrases that spoke to me the first time I heard the song and the day Josh played it for me towards the end of the first trimester when he promised that we were going to carry the twins to term.

A stick, a stone, it's the end of the road;
It's feeling alone, it's the weight of your load;
It's a sliver of glass, it's life, it's the sun;
It's night, it's death, it's a knife, it's a gun;
A flower that blooms, a fox in the brush;
A knot in the wood, the song of a thrush;
The mystery of life, the steps in the hall;
The sound of the wind, and the waterfall.
It's the moon floating free, it's the curve of the slope;
It's an end, it's a bee, it's a reason for hope;
And the river bank sings of the waters of March;
It's the promise of spring, the joy in your heart.
A spear, a spike, a stake, a nail;
It's a drip, it's a drop, it's the end of the tale;
The dew on the leaf in the morning light,
The shot of a gun in the dead of the night;
A mile, a must, a thrust, a bump,
It's the will to survive, it's a jolt, it's a jump;
Blueprint of a house, a body in bed;
Car stuck in the mud, it's the mud, it's the mud;
A fish, a flash, a wish, a wing;
It's a hawk, it's a dove, it's the promise of spring;
And the river bank sings of the waters of March;
It's the end of despair, the joy in your heart.
A stick, a stone, it's the end of the road;
The stump of a tree, it's a frog, it's a toad;
A sigh, a breath, a walk, a run;
A life, a death, a rain, a sun;
And the river bank sings of the waters of March;
It's the promise of life, it's the joy in your heart.

The twins like to watch the video montage each night before they go to bed. I have to admit that it's still hard to watch the first part of the video where they are so tiny, with IVs and ng tubes and heart monitors (though I love when we get to a photo of the monitors on the floor with the words "monitors returned" at the top of the screen and the kids call out, "bye monitors returned!"). They think it's funny that they once had tubes down their nose. Watching it with them and seeing their faces light up at photographs of themselves makes seeing the early photos much easier.

My son loves the song "Waters of March" and tries to sing along with Susannah McCorkle as she warbles in the background. Last night, I googled the song to try to find the lyrics and discovered that I had misunderstood the words this entire time. I had read it to be a song about hope and birth. What I hadn't known was that the composer was Brazilian. And McCorkle had taken great liberties with the translation. March in Brazil is the end of fall and marks the beginning of winter. The song isn't about birth but instead about death. It's the movement of time as it progresses towards death.
All these details swirling around the central metaphor of "the waters of March" give the impression of the the passing of daily life and its continual, inevitable progression towards death, just as the rains of March mark the end of summer and the beginning of the colder season (Wikipedia).

A closer translation of the Portuguese would have the refrain read: "And the river bank talks/ of the waters of March/ It's the end of the strain/ The joy in your heart."

It's the joy that comes from the final release on life--that Judeo-Christian concept that there is a better life after this one on earth.

It's hard for me to see the song this way, since you can obviously tell from the picture that I made that I saw the words with bright colours and happy roundness. It was like a pregnant belly after infertility--it was finally going to be spring. And there were bumps and deaths along the way (including family members who we wish had gotten to see our kids born). And sometimes the weight of our load made us feel alone. But it was also the will to survive, a bee, and a reason for hope. I've always told the twins that they were the end of our despair and the joy in our hearts.

Not really letting Wikipedia or the inverse of seasons in the southern hemisphere take that away from me.


Anonymous said...

This reminds me of my days as an English lit major. One of my teachers put us into groups, gave each group a poem, and had us write down what we thought it meant. These were pretty abstract poems, so we came up with very different ideas shaped by our own views and beliefs. Those different interpretations were the point of the exercise. If you find strength in this song, I think that's all that matters.

I'm going to go listen to it. :)

Plain Jane Mom said...


The hope in this song used to make me cry as we were both doing infertility treatments and starting adoption stuff.

I can hardly believe that it meant the same thing to someone else. I am stunned.

Listen to the Jane Monheit version.

mandolyn said...

Happy tears.

That's simply beautiful. I tend to seek out songs that fit my particular mood and/or current situation. I've been known to make them bend a little in order to customize the fit, but I've found that in terms of truly moving me, not much else comes close.

Karaoke Diva said...

One of my favorite bands (Everything But the Girl) wrote a beautiful song that I listened to again and agains when I was trying to get pregnant with my son. It's called "Apron Strings":

Apron strings, hanging empty crazy things
My body tells me I want someone to tie to my apron strings
Apron strings, waiting for you
Pretty things that I could call you
I want someone to tie to my lonely apron strings

Baby looks just like you when you were young
And he looks at me with eyes that shine
And I wish that he were mine
Then I go home to my apron strings
Cold and lonely for time brings
Thoughts that only will be quiet when someone clings to my apron strings

And I'll be perfect in my own way
When you cry I will be there
I'll sing to you and comb your hair
All your troubles I will share
For apron strings can be used for other things
Than what they're meant for
And you'd be happy wrapped in my apron strings

ms. c said...

OMG, could you make me cry more?
I like the translation that you have, and the hope it shows.
I was thinking I would find the Portuguese version for my husband (who's Portuguese, and loves when I approach him with anything Portuguese), but he will probably interpret it "correctly"!
sill... so beautiful, as is your poster, and the story about your children watching the montage. I hope to have that one day...

C said...

What a beautiful song! IMHO, if you think it's about birth, it's about birth. I'm big on deciding what something means to *you* and ignoring what it means to other people.

FWIW, I cry to this song by Ben Harper at the end of every cycle. It's how I imagine I'll feel the first time I see my baby (whenever that happens).

The morning sunrise spread her wings
While the moon hung in the sky
Held the sea in your hands
And happy everafter in your eyes

Couldn't leave you to go to heaven
I carry you in my smile
For the first time my true reflection i see
Happy everafter in your eyes

Every star in the night
Promises the dawn
I will be there if you fall
To ever so heavily rest upon

All that i can give you
Is forever yours to keep
Wake up every day with a dream
And happyever after in your eyes

Happy everafter is in your eyes

aah0424 said...

What a beautiful song! Since others are posting their emotional song I will too. I listen to this song at least once a week. It is probably more of a romantic love song, but it helps me to not give up on my dream of having a child.

Rascal Flatts - The Day Before You

I had all but given up on finding
The one that I could fall into
On the day before you
I was ready to settle for
Less than love and not much more
There was no such thing as a dream come true
Oh, but that was all the day before you

Now you're here and everything's changin'
Suddenly life means so much
I can't wait to wake up tomorrow
And find out this promise is true
I would never have to go back to
The day before you

In your eyes I see forever
Makes me wish that my life never knew
The day before you

The Heaven knows those years without you
Shaping my heart for the that day I found you
You're the reason for all that I've been through
Then I'm thankful for the day before you

Now you're here and everything's changin'
Suddenly life means so much
I can't wait to wake up tomorrow
And find out this promise is true
I would never have to go back to
The day before you

Cibele said...

Hi, I felt right at home here today. I love this song, and Tom Jobim is one of our best musicians! He makes me proud to be Brazilian! t\That is the beauty about music, we can make it our own! Have you have heard the version in Portuguese? It is pretty!!! Tonight I'll will hear it again... and I will think about all it means to me, make it my own and pray that spring comes back to me again.
JUST A NOTE, in Brazil March is the beginning of winter, not spring. It rains a lot in March and it announces that the summer is over. That it is why “the waters of March” maybe that is why you thought about the music differently.
There is a song in Portuguese that I use to listen to that says: The seasons have changed but nothing changed… However, I know that something happened because everything is so different! That is my song for now…
I must say again, I love your blog!

Cibele said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jessica said...

This is so beautiful. sob.

Piccinigirl said...

oh what a beautiful song and a beautiful way to have it come to life for you. Music has played such an important part in this journey for me , many times because it can lift me and make me keep trying. I think that all of the roads we take on a TTC journey are subjective to us, the way "we see it" but many times it is important to know that what I might be seeing , hearing on this road may not mean the same things to you even though we're on the same road.
Thanks for sharing some of your road.

TwennyTwo said...


I LOVE that song- my fave is the version by Cassandra Wilson on her 'Belly of the Sun' CD.

She sings the bittersweetness of the song. I do speak some Portuguese and I have the version sung by Astrud Gilberto as well. Classic.

Lovely wall hanging, I thought (wished) it was a poster I could purchase. And your post reflects the true sentiment of the song. Thank you!