Like Water: A Poem

Originally published in ROAR Magazine: A Journal of the Literary Arts by Women Volume 3, this poem hinges on the mystic understandings of a daughter and the generations preceding her.

Like Water

Thyme, garlic, and rosemary sprigs boil in water. Mint leaves float on rounded aureoles.  Twirls of steam hobble in the kitchen and fog the green sea glass tiles. Tiles, one of the first words his granddaughter learned to write in cursive. “Mija, come here. Come massage your hands in this steam. Mija.”

He hears the etched squawk of chair legs push against tiles. A magnetic shuffle of slippers toward him. “Mija, your hands over this.”

Open palms parallel to electric burners, her hands intended for inspection. Moisture and spice crawl through the dried creeks of her chapped skin.

The grandfather, between indexes and thumbs, slowly lifts a black shawl beneath her hair—raises, pushes the hair up, still, lets it fall like water—eclipsing the view of her head. The shawl drapes over her face and she feels the steam hold close to her. “Mija, your hands can’t be used as axes. Your hands are resurrections.” He tilts her veiled face closer to the boiling pot. Centimeter by centimeter he urges her into the steam and wild mirror surface.

“In there, Mija, you can become an owl. Bring back the women we have lost. Do you remember when I danced around the May Pole in Mexico, when I was a boy? Mother told me to dance with a girl. In her hair I placed a marigold.”

He needs me to be an owl—speak to the women who have died. Place mint on the front of our door and on my tongue. Watch for them. Raise them home.



ROAR Magazine is a print literary journal that exists to provide a space to showcase women’s fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. We are committed to publishing literature by emerging and developing writers and we aim to support the equality of women in the creative arts.


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