national anthology of the best undergraduate writing 2014

Iron in the Well Water

Carolyn Decker  • 
Wheaton College

Loving you is stepping through ice,
that first moment in a scalding shower,
when I curve my spine
against the impulse to shiver.


It is the sensation of my shrinking pupils
when I move into a sudden sunshine—and
it is the hesitant glow of the single
candle in the lofted platform where you sleep.


You feel almost the same in my memory
as you did in my hands
and thinking of you
is like training snow peas
to climb along the twine strung
six inches above the just-turned soil,
their spiraling tendrils casting around it,
nurturing their early blooms, their fruits.


Loving you is slow and constant
as the cleaving of the sea floor
at the center of the ocean,
where the searing, turbulent rock
of the earth’s molten core


freezes—as if it is shocked
that these two worlds
could share such a strange and fluid life.