Touch: The Journal of Healing


Treading Water

    by Larina Warnock


Noah watches her dress the turkey.

Her eyes glisten in oven light, taunt

him with her memories.  Two years

trickle through his veins, the ebb

and flow of her pain gilded within. 

He feels—and wonders why he feels—

he must protect her.  She turns

to the sink to wash away

breadcrumbs and garlic clinging

to her fingers.  She tells him sometimes

she feels safe, and he holds these words

like dewdrops on his skin.  He doesn’t know

where she came from or where she’s been,

but he brushes her hair from her eyes,

out of tears he doesn’t want to understand.



Lilly paces the bedroom

floor, shower-steam boiling over her

while she waits to tell him:

I love you, but…She floats across time,

memories once flesh renewed

by today’s self-defense class: a demonstration

that brought back the last day of her first

marriage, a calloused hand against her throat. 

She worries, and wonders why she worries,

that Noah might strike her down.  She's late

and though it was the flooded bridge

on Ninth Street, guilt trickles through her

like Northwest drizzle. She wants

to tell him sometimes she feels savage,

but he holds her and rinses the past away. 

She doesn’t know why he wants her,

and she aches for the shower to keep pouring,

keep pounding his skin like a waterfall of glass

that keeps them separate and pure. 



Noah watches her bury her face

in the pillow.  He opens the window and listens

to the storm and wonders why she cries

when he dreams.  He wraps himself in her fear

and carries her into the rain. 

He feels—and wonders why he feels—

he must baptize her in trust.  Raindrops trickle

down her cheeks.  She whispers: Thank you. 

He doesn’t know what he’s done, but she is beautiful

in the ebb and the flow of memories she will not share. 

He wants to teach her to swim through the ocean. 

He wants to build her an ark of strength and passion,

but instead they wait in the rain

and tread water.

© 2009 Larina Warnock

Larina Warnock writes poetry and prose from Corvallis, Oregon where she lives with her husband and four children.  Her work, which often details the healing journey of her family, has appeared as a top ten winner in Writer's Digest's poetry competition, Wheelhouse Magazine, The Oregonian, Space & Time Magazine, Touch: The Journal of Healing, and many others. She serves as the site administrator for the discussion forum, editor of The Externalist, chair of Writers on the River, and as a volunteer for CALYX.


Copyright © 2009

Touch: The Journal of Healing

All rights reserved.