the salt of the ocean//the sand of the shore

Poem by: Kayla Ehrlich
Copy-edited by: Pranav Gupta
Illustration by: Campbell Lackey


I’ve stood at the cusp of the earth

where nothing but scuttling crabs and drifting gulls 

ever dare to wander

there are no footprints

at least, none that remain

untouched by the passing waves

the melting, running foam

that leave everything and nothing in your hands

the warmest grasp 

that tracks lines of salt on dried skin

whispers and promises to never let go

after the longest day with the most turbulent waters

when words and smiles and sun have come and gone

traces of salt linger on my fingers

like unexpected friends dropping by one afternoon

for a few words exchanged turned into your heart 

spilled out and the longest goodbyes

written across salt dusted palms

bits and pieces of every hand that’s breached the surface of the water

I stand ankle deep in shifting sands

a boiling mud, simmering and settling 

                        over and over again the floor beneath me resets

backwards and forwards, the shore is drawn deeper

                        into the belly, the mother, the void

I could be sinking or floating or maybe just beckoned

                        there’s always a point when you stand too long

and you’ve forgotten exactly where your skin begins

                        and the earth ends

I’ve been rubbed raw by the smallest of granules 

                        scraped to the bone by the piles of dust

I’ve walked the roads of millions across the globe

                        sands carried over by the rolling sea

traces of stories stuck in between my toes

                        under my feet and up to my knees

I could close my eyes and listen to cymbals

                        the rhythm of twirling ocean against tumbling shore,

and let my ear reach for the other edge

                        connected by water and salt and sand

to touch those who stand where everyone and no one has stood before

                        the land of the sea and the depths of the earth

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