Haiku Series for Erik and Lloyd Ocean
By Caitlin Levy
This piece is inspired by Erik Simpanen and Lloyd Mullings, both of whom I read about in the New York Times. They were married in September 2020 and changed their last names to Ocean.
I. I saw two hands in the paper, masked lips//each man Mr. Ocean. II. No name could hold both, surname encoded by hand, by sway of tide, O III. fraying ocean swells// by moonlight-- from ocean comes flesh, such fire, their name. IIII. They were born before the sun could trace the black sea, as a dark sky rang V. ‘Mr. Ocean, hear!’ Lend me your light, life-giving, & I will give you all mine. VI. The clouds mourn their sea— rain held in two lips, in skin soft against the sky VII. Imagine two eyes, wet by blossoms, salt, its scent, bursting at their necks. . . VIII. two men, through deserts, thirst for a droplet-cool tongue, come upon ocean VIIII. Lapping waves, their joy, the life-giving water and life breathing beneath. X. Picture their long hands sweeping against water’s back, a soft reminder- XI. You are found in light Brush of darkening sea, we- They swallowed the big VII. Sun whole in love//We wrote a new history, earth, Earth, Mr. Ocean
I love reading the vows section of the New York Times, so it all began with that! I had read about two men, named Erik and Lloyd, who were recently married. They wanted to create a name of their own, and as they were parting at an airport, they came up with “Ocean.” I just thought that was awesome. I’ve always loved water, and their story reminded me of one of my favorite lyrics, from a Maya Hawke song: “I want to love a boy/The way I love the ocean.” I wanted to capture a sort of physicality in that word “ocean,” as well as its emotional precense within their relationship. I thought a haiku series would be a nice way to have structure in a piece that was mainly depicting a feeling; I also knew, off the bat, it would be imagery-heavy. After discussions and sessions with my mentor, Leah, as well as edits from my school’s literary magazine, I was able to get the poem to where it is today.
Caitlin is a mentee with a love for poetry, arts and crafts, and puns. She can often be found geeking out about science with her friends, writing spontaneous songs, or reading by a window. She spent last summer studying slam poetry with Urban Word, and she's soon going to return as a counselor at her book club camp. Above all, she's immensely grateful for the Girls Write Now community.