two poems /sebastian merrill
Updated: Apr 1
Was I Once Called Persephone?
When I want to feel
I dive into the river, allow my heavy body
to slacken, cradled by the lightless water.
If spring comes I will know
my name, follow the tunnel
bitten through the hard earth, lose all
dignity as I leap to the upward sky.
My life has become an upside-down cup:
what sad water I’ve found in this buried river,
these eyeless fish, sulfurous depths. I am a singer
without rain, skyless. I light a flame against
the dark, let myself weep. I do not
know how to pass the border into sleep.
By mid-summer, lobster buoys dot the water’s surface, a collection of distinct patterns: flamingo
pink with lime green polka-dots, mandarin orange with butter yellow stripes. Paddling out, I think
not of the working traps tethered to the air by braided nylon lines,
hauled up every few days by the lobstermen who empty out their precious catch,
but of the ghost traps, cut off from their umbilici, lost over the years
to storms, boat propellers, vindictive rival fishermen. Abandoned on the seabed,
they continue to capture lobsters, rock crabs, sea bass. For years unseen, they green
with seaweed and algae, are studded with barnacles, slowly rust in the corrosive
salt, sink into the ooze of mud, become bizarre synthetic beasts devouring
without mind, without reason.
Sebastian Merrill’s debut poetry collection GHOST :: SEEDS was selected by Kimiko Hahn as the winner of the 2022 X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize and is forthcoming in Fall 2023 from Texas Review Press. A member of the 2023 Get the Word Out inaugural poetry cohort for debut writers from Poets & Writers and the 2022-23 winner of the Levis Prize for Poetry from Friends of Writers, Sebastian holds an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College.