Poems in Green and Blue
By Sylvi Stein
The ocean has inspired generations of artists and writers. My work is collected in a digital anthology as a continuation of mankind’s love letter to the sea.
I remember dreams like this: watery
blue light, goggles capped against my eyes
(Breaching the surface is the midnight gasp of air you rake in
to remind yourself you are alive)
I took my first steps in the Whale Room of the Natural History Museum
thrashing forward, away from my mother’s arms
(Hearing the echoes of the people reverberate against the underbelly of the whale)
On the first day of swimming lessons, I held my breath
and opened my eyes underwater
(Imagining the slice of sunlight playing over age-old flippers
Electric blue jellyfish drifting weightless)
When I broke the surface the world rushed back
and learning to swim was less like learning to walk and more like learning to fly.
My friend caught a fish today
gasping at first, writhing on the line
calming at her touch
(I held my breath
to see if I could make it without air
as long as the fish could without water)
her hands worked a long time
the air still and green
the lake still and green
the sun beating down on our shoulders, hunched and still
I wrote about it later in a letter
the cabin quiet and cold
the pencil scratching softly
I went fishing today. I want
to fish with you
it almost sounds like I miss you if you listen hard enough
but there was no sound when the fish slipped
off the hook
it did not wriggle as it slid into the lake
You drag me out, tug my soul,
tear me from my skin.
Will I fall apart or finally be whole?
(The salt says: breathe it in.)
Your midnight moonlight falls like rain,
draws my lifeline taunt and slack.
Not all demons can be slain.
(The salt says: don’t look back.)
Underfoot, solid ground slides away.
Should I stay, when I may roam?
Freedom is the curse of the lost, they say.
(The salt says: you are home.)
The Great Barrier Reef is Dead.
This is what my mother says as she drops the groceries on the table.This is what the TV says on the eight o’clock news (but not the six o’clock, nor the ten o’clock)
This is a scream a blank black and white statistic, stark and silent
Sorry tomorrow, sorry yesterday, Sorry my children, grandchildren, my roots, my branches, my buds, my fruit
Sorry little girl, dreaming of octopi and jellyfish, sorry little sister. Sorry we did not try to swim until we were drowning, and some of us not even then. Sorry coral-bright cuttlefish, sorry dazzling pacific porpoisessorry flickering underwater fireflies. Sorry you shrank while we grew.Sorry it ended this way. Sorry it did not have to.
Hope is a tiny, glowing thing that takes root between anemones and art class between happiness and the horizon between the moment before you know and the moment after. The Great Barrier Reef is dead.
I dreamt last night I could breathe underwater — I tasted salt against my tongue, I kicked my feet and they were fins I dreamed a vibrant world beneath the surface the laughing seagrass kissed my toes strands of pearls curled themselves in my hair You are dreaming, they sang as I swam on You are dreaming, the bubbles whispered against my skin You are dreaming, sobbed the slow, endless tide. You are dreaming. You are dreaming. The Great Barrier Reef is dead
but there is no one to blame no murderer to pin with a name – the young are the ones, the daughters and sons who will inherit this earth. Teach them not to point fingers and let bitterness linger let them be your rebirth so they don’t have to sit and watch the world fall apart. Reset. Restart. Redirect. Connect. There’s still so much to protect.
I was inspired to collect my writings and photographs about the sea. The ocean itself is so beautiful and awe-inspiring, it lends itself to art and creation.
Meet the Pair
Mentee Sylvi Stein & Mentor Nan Bauer-Maglin
Sylvi’s Anecdote: My mentor Nan and I meet weekly in Le Pain Quotidien for some good chatting and good poetry. We always have something new to share, to laugh about, or to discuss in righteous indignation. We both enjoy reading and erasing poetry to make something entirely new.
Nan’s Anecdote: I have been a mentor to Sylvi for two years. In terms of history, I expect in maybe four or five years to see Sylvi’s name on a book cover titled: The Next Wave of Young Women Poets.
Sylvi Stein is a senior in New York, NY and a lover of poetry, prose, art, photography, the ocean, sunsets and the moon. Her biggest pet peeve is when someone judges a book by its cover or its width. Sylvi considers herself a writer because, plain and simple, she loves writing (and reading). If she were a superhero, she would love to be able to fly, but mind-reading would probably be more practical.