Ocean Girl

Ocean Girl by May Lafer-Kirtner - Photo by Sonja Lippmann


I looked at the drafts of my poems today
I found the descriptions of an ocean girl soaked into the pages,
And I almost cried.
I can’t remember any other poems that have ever been entangled with a girl,
I can’t remember any other day I loved my identity enough
To want to turn it into art,
I can’t remember another day that the person I wrote a love poem about
Was anything other than bruising
Was soft and kind
And passionately angry at a world that hurts those she loves.
I can’t remember the last time
I let myself imagine the fairy tale of silk and satin,
Of rainbows and bunnies and cotton candy
And girls made of gentle words and star-filled eyes.
I can’t remember the last time I have ever loved a girl not made of liquid nitrogen,
Not about to destroy every light around her,
A girl without an escape velocity faster than my heart has ever beaten.
This girl is made of all crashing waves and quiet mornings,
She is an ocean of emotions I have yet to know about her,
But already want to write poems about.
She is not the sky, or the sun,
And what a relief it is that she isn’t.
She is laughter, the very essence of a shy smile.
She is violets under moonlight, limbs splayed across clean sheets.
She is angry where I can’t be and soft where I am afraid to be.
I can’t remember the last time I wrote poems
About an ocean girl.

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May Lafer-Kirtner is a member of the class of 2024 at South Eugene High School in Eugene, Oregon. She has been writing all her life, and after graduating, hopes to become a reporter and a novelist. After having a hard time in middle school, she started writing poetry and stories as an outlet for all of her most intense emotions—about friends, death, her chronic illness, and mental health struggles. She started trying to get published after reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower, because she hoped to remind other people they weren’t all alone.
Accompanying photo: “Salt Bath” by Sonja Lippman