Omen by Tawni Waters


Do not ask me how I knew
by watching the movements
of dust particles in a sunbeam
that someday, you would be mine,
but I knew it as surely as an old woman
reads her death in tea leaves
or an ancient priest foretold war
by the throwing of bleached out bones.
That, and the curve your mouth
reminded me of home
before you even spoke.
That, and you sank your head
onto my shoulder that day
in Mexico
as if we had known one another
for a thousand years.

When you were fretting
by the sea
I knew what to do.
Look at the water,
I told you, and you did,
and your breath slowed.
And some would say
the way your seams split that day
the way you ripped up the middle
was a bad omen
but I saw it
as beautiful.

I saw you as beautiful
hunched on that porch
running your hands
through your rumpled
hair again and again
and again, your glassy eyes
for something far away.
Look at the water, I told you
and you did.
I wanted to be your Jesus.
I wanted to let you thrust
your fingers into the holes
in my palms
so your faith would be restored.
I wanted to walk on the water
as you looked
so you could believe again
in something
larger than the panic
in your eyes.

I wanted you.
I wanted the yellow teeth
with the wide gap
and the lisp
and the fact
that you downed
an entire bottle of tequila
after you told me
you used to have a drinking
but it was better now.
I wanted your fucked up places.
I wanted the spiders in your hair.
Look at the water, I told you
and you rested your head
on my shoulder.

That was when I knew.


Tawni Waters is a writer, actor, and gypsy. She has an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of New Orleans. Her work has been published in Best Travel Writing 2010, Bridal Guide Magazine, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Albuquerque Journal, Albion Review, ABQ Arts Magazine,So To Speak, and Conceptions Southwest, among others. She was a regular contributor Albuquerque’s East Mountain Telegraph. In 2010, she won the Grand Prize in the Solas Awards Travel Writing Competition. In 2009, she won the Editor’s Award for Fiction from Ellipses Magazine. Her novel, Empire of Dirt, is poised for international success, which is a euphemism for “has been rejected by every agent in the U.S. and three in Canada.” She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her children and a menagerie of wayward animals. In her spare time, she humanely evicts spiders from her floorboards and plays Magdalene to a minor rock god.

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