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When I Saw the Ocean


Natasha Bredle

I forgot what land was. Beneath
my feet? Something other

than the lucid sky before me.
In the water: my reflection, ghostly.

Fingers reaching for a substance
realer than skin. Skin doesn’t

slip away so easily. That’s how you tell.
Fondness goes. Love goes. The water

goes, and in its wake you know it wasn’t
a dream. I go. I am no dream. I was here.

My breathing. My mystery. My body.
All replaced by the sun in a new scene.

Go stand before it yourself. See if it isn't
your judgment. Your justice. The waves

lapping at your toes, aching to swallow you,
but refraining. The water is wise. It knows

it only has to be, so vast and so cool,
for the rope of temptation to drag us

to its shore, cause us to gaze upon
its shuddering body. To the earth’s end.

To the deep. Its challenge: a losing game.
A needed reckoning. I saw the ocean, and

the noose around my neck was released.
Yet I told the water it couldn't have me.

It could never have me. It could never
have me. But since that day, it has

mourned me. Longed for me. The death of me.
My hunger. My home. It’s calling.

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