Over the next few days, we will be featuring the reflections of our participants. Today we feature collaborator Caits Meissner as she shares her experience with CEZNJA:BORN LONGING.


ImageI. Rehearsal 

Water. It is the thread that runs through the show that Sarah and I have the honor to be apart of, our collaboration of poem and dance. Water- a passage to a new land. Water- sustenance. Water- a place to cool the skin and renew. Water- what makes the thought of a long ago island so pungent in memory. Miriam, the eighty year old woman whom we based our piece on, sits next to me in rehearsal. I have just read my poem illustrating all of the stories she so generously poured into us at her kitchen table in Astoria two weeks ago.

Sarah rocks back and forth in dance, water. Sarah waves her body, water.

Miriam puts her hands over her face when she is overcome. She jokes to break the tension. I hand her my poem and she folds it up small and places it to her lips. She sings along to all the songs she grew up with on her tiny island. Water. “You people,” she says, “are really something.” Is that good or bad, I ask? “Good,” she days definitively, and then admires my ring. I tell her my birthday was yesterday. Her husband’s was the day before mine, her father’s today. This small realization brings me a tiny thrill of pleasure. The flame of connection.

II. Opening Night

The night of the show I look at Miriam when I say, “stir the polenta,” I am performing to the audience, but I am performing, mostly, for her. I speak maybe too quickly for each word to be grasped, but I see her light up at her stories translated, the recognition of herself in these young New York women. Connection. I know water is not the only thing we drink. When she reads her poem after ours, there is a different kind of emotion that arrives to the surface- sustenance. There is life. Life earned from living. 

Water. Home. Family. Leaving. Heartache. Water. Connection. This show was an experience in humanity, in the magic of being alive with a beating heart and a  ticking brain, with a bodies that will all fade, taking our stories with them. This experience with Miriam, a deep reminder that our stories are all the same stories, they just appear in different colors. 




  1. Dear Caits, thank you so much for this! It’s so rewarding for us at CEC ArtsLink to known that the project was so meaningful for the participants!

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