Green Water

by Tori Grant Welhouse

What does he see in the green water?
My Scottish husband has a hidden
talent for remembering. He sets
green water in a glass mug
on the table where I sit,
carefully turning the handle
toward me. In the light of the bay
window, the color of glass is
a brew of green and earth
and stewing pot. I can see
floating flecks of salt and pepper,
aroma pungent and cabbage-y.
Steam shimmies to the ceiling.

He was a boy with tall teeth
and scuffed knees, streaked green
by the pitch. He helped himself
to plums from the tree in the back
close while his boardinghouse mother
served Polish exiles in the camps.
She called him loon or loonie.
By August 1942, almost all food
was rationed apart from vegetables
and bread. Brokuły is broccoli
in Polish. Its thick stem softens
when boiled.

He stands in the enclosure
above the busy street,
blowing breath across
the green water, which ripples.
Nourish means to let flow.
We grew up next to rivers
in our two countries,
separated by an ocean.
The issuing of dates
in a history long before me,
a war my German grandparents
never talked about.
He liked treacle on bread,
too, he reminisces,
turning to me, still loonie
with the tall teeth.

Tori Grant Welhouse’s poems have appeared most recently in HerWords and Chestnut Review, and she was a runner-up for the Princemere Prize. She won Skyrocket Press’s 2019 novel-writing contest for her YA fantasy, The Fergus, and Etching Press’s 2020 poetry chapbook competition for Vaginas Need Air. More at