The Purity of Water – a poem by Arlene Antoinette

The Purity of Water

He said I was in need of a baptism,
for there was something unholy
housed in me. I told him I was his,
do whatever you want with me, I said.
I had no questions. No hesitation for he
was a holy man and knew sin in all its
He walked me to the edge of the ocean;
me in white from neck to toe, him
in a long black robe with a thick white
collar, reminiscent of a puritan minister.
We stood still for a moment, as waves hit
our ankles with force, daring us to continue
our course.
It was a moment where time mimicked us.
I waited, my weak quivering heartbeat
keeping pace with the back and forth
of the tide. He took my hand and we
moved forward in silence. He stopped
suddenly then; the sea at his waist,
hungry and calling out for a sacrifice.
Closing my eyes, I waited for a sudden
backward dip; waited for the flow of water
over my entire body. Waited for the removal
of my sins, so that I could be brought into the light.
Seconds extended into minutes, but there was nothing.
No movement, no sensation of water flowing
over my head, no words of blessing by the minister.
I opened my eyes and he was gone, lost to the desires
of an unforgiving sea.


Arlene Antoinette is a poet of West Indian birth who grew up in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from Brooklyn College and worked as an instructor with disabled individuals for many years. You may find additional work by Arlene atFoxglove Journal, Leaves of Ink, 50 Word Stories, Cagibi Journal, Spillwords Press, Bull & Cross, Okay Donkey, CafeLit, Poetry Pacific, Nightingale & Sparrow, Lost Pen Magazine, Scarlet Leaf Review, Back Patio Press, and Your Daily Poem.


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