To My Ghost :: Float

By SEBASTIAN MERRILL

South Bristol, Maine. Pictured is a large body of water with small waves. Blue skies are above and land can be seen in the distance.
 
Little Thrumcap Island, South Bristol, Maine

I. 
Bound by rocky headlands,
            this northern coast is hard
                         and sharp: few beaches

                                    greet the pounding surf.
                         I paddle through an ocean
            studded with islands,

each a small world in itself:
            Birch Island frames Little Harbor,
                         the sheltered waters home to herons,

                                     cormorants, and eiders;
                         Hay Island holds two hand-hewn
            houses; ospreys nest on the tip

of Crow Island. I gentle my speed
            through the Thread of Life, watch
                         the spring-born seal pups swim

                                     fearlessly alongside their cautious
                         mothers. After paddling through the Thread,
            I land on Thrumcap Island’s rare beach.

At high tide, the water shines
            turquoise above the creamy sand,
                         a mix of stone and crushed shells:

                                     oysters, whelk, blue mussels,
                         snails, and clams. I carry my boat
            high above the reaching waves,

tear off my shirt, dive
            into the relentless sea.

South Bristol, Maine. Small waves appear in a body of water. Land can be seen in the distance. Blue skies above.

II.
Buoyed by the salt water,
            I float weightless and free
                         until I no longer feel

                                     the cold. I emerge goose
                         pimpled, lie on the sand
            to soak in the sun. As I drift

toward sleep, a woman paddles
            onto the beach. I recognize
                         her face, even though we

                                     haven’t seen her for ten years
                         at least. You used to play
            kick-the-can with her

and the other island girls.
            She doesn’t know me
                         at first, and nervous, shy,
                               
                                    I don’t offer a greeting.
                         Until, with a flicker, she sees
            you within me. Is it you? she asks.

I stand up fast, nod, cross
            my arms over my scarred,
                         flat chest. It’s confusing,

                                     introducing myself
                         to someone you knew.
            But she’s friendly enough,

so we stand in the surf
            and watch the gulls wheel
                         over the churning waves.

South Bristol, Maine. Two neon green Kayaks lay on shore atop rocks and pebbles, just before a body of water. Blue skies are above. Land is visible in the distance.

III. 

Here                                                in this one place

              both                           you and I                      have lived,

     you luster, flash
                                             bright.

 I branch                                                         away from you

then back then

            away.

Tell me
                                     am I the fig

                                        and you                                        the wasp?

Am I sound                                                                      and you Echo?

Am I                                                  the pomegranate

 and you

                 the seed?

The green and pink cover of Ghost Seeds, the debut poetry collection of Sebastian MerrillExcerpted from GHOST :: SEEDS (Texas Review Press, Nov. 2023). Preorder it via Bookshop.

Sebastian Merrill’s debut collection GHOST :: SEEDS was selected by Kimiko Hahn as the winner of the 2022 X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize and will be forthcoming in Fall 2023 from Texas Review Press. The winner of the 2022 Levis Prize for Poetry from Friends of Writers, Sebastian was selected as a member of the 2023 Get the Word Out inaugural poetry cohort for debut writers from Poets & Writers. A staff-scholar for the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 2022 and 2023 and the Summer 2023 Warren Wilson MFA Alumni Residency Fellow, Sebastian has also received support from Tin House Workshop and the Juniper Summer Writing Institute. The recipient of the Rodney Jack Scholarship from Friends of Writers, he holds an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College and a BA from Wellesley College. sebastianmerrill.com

Photos by the author. 

To My Ghost :: Float

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