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By The Quail Bell Crew
Over the holidays, we created an underwater video as a poetry prompt for the Quail Bell community. Here are some of our favorite poems from what we received.
By Olivia Wu
In the sea of perception,
I seek among so many fish
until I touch stillness within.
Love, truth and beauty expand
until they permeate my reality.
Watching My Daughter Dance Underwater
By Marianne Forman
I find you out back,
beyond the fence, the rock garden.
You have abandoned the shoreline
in search of deeper waters.
Limbs like electric tentacles,
you refuse to gauge the waters with your toes.
You do not crawl or creep.
You plunge face first into the opaque.
You must temper your descent with your own dancer’s hands.
Adagio and allegretto, these are the hands
that swelled from rubber bands wound tight,
bending thumb to middle finger. I remember
watching you press your fingers,
like pincers, into this choreographed prayer,
even in your sleep dreams, dancing,
as I stand next to your bed.
Jewels trickle off your toes as you move deeper.
Ornaments float to the surface.
You shed the lamb’s wool that has cradled
bloodied toes forced into steel point dancer’s slippers.
You are determined to leave a trail
of baubles and charms,
to decorate the surface where you began.
There is a worm of blood
swimming from your mouth.
Emerging from the center
where your tongue bolt used to be.
A coming of age stigmata
self-inflicted, rising to the surface.
Breathing on its own.
This blood offering, oozing from your open lips.
With a loop of gold, you have pierced your navel.
This indentation on your body, your most visceral connection to me.
Singing you lullabies when I fed you
in dark amniotic waters.
This piercing fragments your center,
severs the cord.
This stabbing of your flesh,
I watch you navigate your way
to the firm ground of this watery floor.
Your eyes are open,
even when submerged in water.
You breathe now with your pupils,
irises dilated, vibrating. A marine metronome.
You are a trapeze underwater diver,
soaked in determination and your steady pulse.
This is your water waltz.
I stand on the shore at midnight,
tone deaf in this darkness.
I am mute, my feet sinking into sand.
You are all moon and fleshy star,
a throbbing constellation.
You dance between starfish and seahorses,
weaving your own way into this enveloping sea.
On Wading For You
By Dena Igusti
This is going too fast
I want you to go fast,
But not let us go fast
Deep inside me
not deep into me
Hold on tight
not too hard
Hold onto my body
don't hold onto me
I was never meant for holding
My love was never meant for holding
It was meant for waiting
For treading before I go deeper
Before I realize that I'm drowning in you
As I fall for you
Immerse myself in you
Forgetting to tread
To pump my legs
I'll pump my legs for you
But not pump my legs to the surface
To prevent myself from drowning into you
From drowning all over again
Hold my breath
Let love or water fill my lungs
Cause both will cause my heart to stop
Close my eyes
What could go wrong?
King Of Long Branch Beach
By Hao Lun Xu
I’ve yet to learn
the landlubber love of Brooklyn.
The transit ruins me a shipwreck.
Somewhere near Bay Ridge, the commute
has eroded a seventh claustrophobia inside of me.
There’s a surrender in the squeeze.
I have forgotten my breath’s rhythm,
having confused the tempo of my lungs
to the Hungarian stranger on my left.
I close my eyes and count sheep, so hard
seven stars are lost behind my eyelids.
There’s a peace
in the memory of Jersey seaweed.
I am the Lord of The Sea,
Realm of One, of a summer sand throne.
having swam alone 77 times in the dead waves.
Pulled hamstrings at two in the morning,
and there’s no difference between a lifeguard
before the immense and horrifying night sky.
I’ve learned to drown with dignity.
We underestimate the below bubbles,
the remnants of the heart and sole.