In Roman Waters


The sky was insane that day. I thought as I looked upwards, the dab of white clouds meshed with the remaining grey ones overhead. There was no sight of the sky,  the normal tint of blue disappeared quickly. Nothing would get me out of the water, certainly not rain. I had come too far, I dreamt of this too long. I needed time away and in the steaming water I realized it was me, not the sky who was insane.

I had made it to Bath Spa in time of departures. In my city, I left my two best friends struggling  with luggage and bags,  as they readied to move out I packed and ran.  I had disregarded their advice of staying , they insisted it was my flu that concerned them.  I knew they wanted me to stay for another day before our separation. I couldn’t, goodbyes are not exactly my strongest feature not as unlike escape. Before September and its sunshine faded I was on the train heading south to the Roman city that sits poised in the midst of rainy England.

 It seemed the Romans managed to leave remains wherever they went, even way into my childhood stories that’s how I learnt of a city with an odd name as Bath. When I saw photographs of the Roman Baths as an adult I was dumbfounded.  I wanted to meet Aqua Sulis and greet Minerva, at whose account the water flowed in an eternal flame- the Goddesses of the hot streams. I wanted to feel even if it was for a moment the appreciation of my body toward water. Would I be a volcano? Would the waters soften me? I had yet to know.

When I walked out of the station early afternoon I could sense history on the walls of the city, it was old but extremely warm. Stewart, the taxi driver, told me the buildings were frozen in time because it was a heritage site, paperwork and permissions were needed to get the buildings restored, forget remodeling.  I thanked Stewart and descended towards the public baths thinking of the women who walked the street before me, were they so laden with the burden of departures?.

The lady who greeted me at the Baths told me as she did others not to touch the steaming waters. She referred me to the adjunct spa, Thermae where hot waters ran deep even in October.  My bathing suit itched beneath the discomfort of the raincoat and cardigan I had on as I walked the tiled street. Thermae is where I met Aqua Sulis, it is where I greeted her and shook hands. The open air pool swarmed with the intensity of the earth’s breath, above the pool Minerva/ Aqua Sulis’ head was carved, rock benches rounded the pool and a young Roman olive tree stood lonesome in its pot. I undressed under the watchful eye of the goddess and the young lifeguard who pretended to busy himself reading through an old file. I descended the water.

The whiff of sulfur greeted me as I landed in the pool. It was everywhere, inside my lungs, between my ears and over my shoulders. Then I couldn’t tell how but as I moved in the waters I felt connected, light and weightless. It was womanhood floating in my living cells, in my eyes, behind my ears and under my chest. It was a submersion while I still held my breath. This is what escape denoted: carelessness, a softer cushion for the blows you felt in the mornings. In the warm water I said goodbye to my fears of departures. There I met the beautiful Aqua Sulis/Minerva, she smiled at me. It was the spirit of growth that glazed the surface of the water as the wind changed. Alone and silent I watched the shadows of the clouds play, I smiled back. In a few days I will travel back to an empty apartment, alone without any friends or family around me but for minutes it didn’t matter, I had taken time for myself and met another, an invocation of a wise woman weaved out of myth. I earned my first smile in a month.


I knew I was insane to swim outdoors in autumn but the weather and the spa’s pool proved me wrong: I had subconsciously said goodbye to my friends the same way  I did sunshine- winter was coming. I dunked below the surface,  I could hear the first rain dripping and felt it on the tip of my shoulders. When I blinked under water I saw was rain’s ripples, the shade of a roman olive tree, the hand of another woman offering me strength and the remains of yesterday’s dream coming true.

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