The wandering glider wanders without hope of rest. They cross transoceanic distances so vast, rarely stopping, prefering moist winds, flying without any hope of return. In spite of their ability to fly backwards, they will not look back towards where they set off. They rely on descendants who inherit tricks and deep memoryscapes on navigation to continue crossing earth, land, sky and sea to complete the migratory cycle.
The same species who have acclimatised to the heat and humidity in Singapore do not pursue this migratory impulse. They hover and wander but only within the parameters of the island, perhaps still without any hope of rest. They are described as early colonisers of newly cleared land, gliding over temporal water pools formed in uneven patches of ground, looking for surfaces of water for their ovipositors to land. Surviving in these urban environments sometimes means gliding over lost habitats and mistaking the reflection of the metallic sheen of machines as water.
Not all species cross vast distances or are willing to adjust their temperament to the makeshift seepages of the city. Some bask at the edges of forests, thrive in shaded boggy wetland patches, moving, crossing only within the proximities of their brackish water habitats or slow flowing waterbodies. They have names like Shadowdancer, Sapphire Flutterer, Red-Tailed Sprite, Marsh Wisp, Clearwing Gem, Green Metalwing, Cyrptic Shadesprite, Arror Emperor, Banded Hooktail, Malayan Spinetail, Spoon-tailed Duskhawker, Water Monarch, Whitetipped Demon, Mountain Tigertail, Singapore Shadowdamsel.
Odonates are one of many creatures that are known as messengers in between worlds. They are led by their light sensing compound vision. Their names are not bound to a singular origin myth or etymology of identification. They are simultaneously harbingers of life, rainfall, fortune, mischief and destruction. They are cold blooded, have been called the “devil’s darning needle”, the “toothed one” and are described as beneficial predators. When they are at risk of overheating, they turn their bodies, tail skywards, into obelisks. Their embodiment and presence are intertwined with witchcraft, the spirits of rice plants, ancestors returning home, apotropaic magic, wish fulfilment, evidence of a thriving ecosystem in human modified environments.
Turn your body to the South. How do we keep track of distances, directions and names taken? What trails do our bodies leave when moving across water? What messages from in between worlds do we heed? What instruments, portable objects and articles of safety are carried on these journeys? The cardinal direction of south embodies solar energies, heat physical strength, the presence of warm but softer winds. How can multi-radial tangents of local, scientific, ecological, cosmological, embodied wisdoms accompany us on these crossings? What cognitive maps and compass bearing abilities do we possess? What are you inclined to do when the winds are not in your favour?
Walk towards the water. Walk away from the water. Light a stick of incense. Determine the direction of the wind. Face it. Turn your back to it. Stand for a minute in the warmest spot on the island. Do the same in a cooler, softer place. What gravitational pull do you feel as you move across, towards, away from a particular element?
Embody the aquatic and terrestrial body. Count and take note of the pools of water you encounter today. Think of the dragonfly and make a wish if you see one today.