Book Review: at the water’s edge by Nadia Gerassimenko

Book Review: at the water's edge by Nadia Gerassimenko
“it all started with unfelt bite,
etched forever in your soul
but not always your skin,
it couldn’t have been prevented.”
slow silent killer, Nadia Gerassimenko, at the water’s edge


Nadia Gerassimenko’s powerful collection of poetry, at the water’s edge, is a slow slide into the pool of trauma and how it comes to flood the body. Anyone that has met or interacted with this poet knows what a gentle soul she is and it is never more evident than it is in this poetry. She wants to tell me a story about how trauma has unfolded for her and she’s careful in the telling. Reading the opening poems feels much like sitting for a cup of tea, where she takes my hand and quietly reveals truths that are poignant enough to make me wish I could erase them for her. I feel powerless as I read, but it is nothing compared to how she must feel.


“because this is not only about your
struggling or my struggling there are many
fighters in need of validation in need of comfort
in need of help & to not feel lonely & abandoned”
through the mirror i tell myself, Nadia Gerassimenko, at the water’s edge


This is where Gerassimenko shines such a bright light of positivity even through the darkest parts of struggle. In, through the mirror i tell myself, this poet pulls the reader through a piece of life with Lyme Disease. I think back to my childhood combing the woods of southern Missouri near my grandparents’ farm. I remember how checking for ticks became a daily routine and how it was such a normal part of life I didn’t think much of it. We did this before we knew about Lyme’s disease because it was just something you did. Still, the human body can be a difficult wilderness to search. Even if we found a tick to remove with victorious ceremony, it wouldn’t mean an infection wasn’t left behind in silence. I read over the ways that this disease can ravage a body. It stuns me into silence. Heart problems, eye inflammation and hepatitis are just a few of the possible complications. Through this poem, beyond the struggle, Gerassimenko wants to reach out even in the midst of her own suffering to be a light to others. She inspires hope.


“still more people don’t
believe sexually abused.
people say, ah, his art!
but look unflinchingly,”
dolores doubted, Nadia Gerassimenko, at the water’s edge


I read this poem with a slight nod from the very first words and I wished I did not understand it. Although I don’t know the particulars of this reference, I do know that no amount of genius or creativity excuses cruel behaviour. I have been doubted and gaslighted about abuse by the face that my perpetrator chose to show to the world. We have canons of abusers in the art world, whether they are film directors, famous painters or writers. They may even be the local lauded community leader or a member of trusted clergy. This poem highlights a clear problem and a culture that is intent on protecting perpetrators over the care of survivors. Humanity cannot be a bank where we allow people to deposit their good deeds and words, then borrow against it to mete out cruelty to one another. We need to see Dolores and stand with her.


“to strip off your layers
of masquerades you’ve accumulated
over the years & masks you’ve painted
of poker-faces; even you don’t know
which one is real anymore.”
let the right one in, Nadia Gerassimenko, at the water’s edge


For anyone experienced with processing trauma and how to re-create a life beyond that, let the right one in, is familiar ground. A common refrain in my own experience with healing are the questions: who am I? who do I want to be? who do I need to be? There is no simple ‘self’ here. Healing from trauma never feels fully complete. It is an archaeological site. The mind builds cities upon cities in order to ensure basic survival. This is the skill and sometimes the curse of resilience. This poem hits my heart. It mirrors all of the times I second guess myself. It reminds me of all of the times I trust and then get hurt again. I wonder if it is worth it. In the end, I think it is and it seems the author does, too.


at the water’s edge is an intimate walk with Gerassimenko where she guides the reader to her own experiences with illness, trauma and the shaky path to healing. She is brave in the telling as each page turns and a new portal is opened for us to view. Her hushed voice tells me truths that are hard to hear but must be heard. She reminds me that although my experience is not the same as hers, we are sisters in trauma. More importantly, we are resilient and strong. This collection tugged at my heart in the way I think it should and I feel fortunate to have read it.


Nadia Gerassimenko’s, at the water’s edge, is available for purchase through Rhythm & Bones Press. You can also read dolores forgives, a poem from the book, which we were honoured to publish here at Mookychick (May 2019).


About the Author

Nadia Gerassimenko is the founding editor of Moonchild Magazine & proofreader at Red Raven Book Design. She is a freelancer in editorial services by trade, a poet & writer by choice, a moonchild & nightdreamer by spirit. Nadia self-published her first chapbook Moonchild Dreams (2015).

at the water’s edge is her second chapbook.


About the Publisher

Rhythm & Bones Press is a small independent press from Pennsylvania dedicated to highlighting dynamic and inspirational authors whose work deserves to be acknowledged. They specialize in authors who write with personal emotion and those with trauma to portray to the world. They aim to help turn Trauma into Art. Visit or find them on Twitter/FB @RhythmBonesLit or Instagram @RhythmBonesPress.