By Emilee Kinney
Across the sunlit-stained shores,
the ocean owned everything up
to the mountains that poked at the low-
hanging clouds and dressed themselves
in mist. Atlantic waves lapped at their
feet, each a white-capped canine racing
to the top. I stood amongst discarded
seaweed entangled within itself—dark
and wet like dead fish spit-up from the sea,
gathered as a barrier from the tide’s reach.
Back home, I was warned of jellyfish
hiding in the sand at night—“the only catch
in an otherwise paradise” where the beaches
neighbor balconied towers with too-large
umbrella decor. Here, they only warned
of the hill-folk that could steal you in the night.
Here, the sun was still staining my skin and the sky
a deep pink. Here, the beaches neighbored mountains
that breathed salt and cowhide. It was not yet night:
I knelt to the sand-crusted seaweed with hesitant
fingers reaching for the life hidden beneath.
Thick decay lifted to reveal tiny shells poking out
of the strand, greeting me. Ridged faces with smooth
bellies lifted to the fading sun, their color dressed
in grains rough against my skin. I bring them close
to my face, tuck them in my pocket, and wonder
if I dressed myself in mist and sand, could I teach
my home to become a land that breathes again?
Author’s note: This poem was inspired from my time studying Irish literature and poetry at University College Cork in Cork, Ireland. I studied there for the fall semester of 2017 and fell in love with the lively culture, personable people, and breathtaking landscapes. Ireland felt like another world and really allowed me to reflect on various aspects of my own home and priorities. If you ever have the opportunity to travel overseas, I strongly encourage you to take it! I hope you enjoyed this poem as much as I enjoyed writing it, thank you.
Emilee grew up in Emmett, Michigan and is a graduate from Yale High School now attending Albion College to pursue a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. She is on the Albion College Women’s track team, is the Vice President of Late Night Events for Albion’s Union Board, and the Poetry Editor for the Albion Review. Emilee mentors elementary students at the Harrington Elementary School in Albion, Michigan and enjoys walks in the college’s Whitehouse Nature Center. When home from school, you can find her on the water, in the woods, or in the barn with her horses. Emilee loves her friends, her family, and her poetry.
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