Poem By Katherine Coolage

I've promised myself to the ocean.
No other.
I was young, then, and as I gazed at the waves I knew I wanted the ocean, and only it.

I'm slightly older now.
Still young, but I have a house of my own on a deserted stretch of beach.
And out my window I can see the ocean.

I don't know why I'm here.
Here, or anywhere else, really.
But I know I shouldn't be close to the ocean.
It flusters my brain and fuddles my soul.

Out the window it calls to me.
Join me, it says.
Join me.
You said you would.
You haven't visited me.
You haven't let me stroke your skin in years.
And you promised.

Time, I say.
I need more time.

Then I think I should have promised myself to the earth, and the land.
There's too much ocean already in me.
I wash from place to place, aimlessly.
I could find a use for roots like a tree's.
Besides, humans can't live in water.

The ocean knows.
It sees me, through my window,
and can hear my thoughts.

And it is angry.

At night I listen to the waves, loud waves, tossing foam back and forth.
A storm is brewing, I can feel it, down to my the deep of my bones.
The dark sky clouds over,
Heavy blue now, and frothing.
Churning over on itself.
It's calling me.
The ocean is calling me.

As I open my door,
As if in a daze,
The wind picks up.
The bushes start creaking,
And the world howls.

The waves crash harder, and louder.
The sky seems ready to throw its burden down to the earth.
And like a sleepwalker,
With messy steps,
But sure,
By the tumbling light of the full moon,
I begin walking toward the ocean.

It is pulling me.

The voices are louder outside.
Louder. Thicker. Darker.

Join me.
Join me,
Join me.

And I drift towards the ocean in a haze.
I step onto the sand, but keep going.
Going, going,
Until I touch the water.

The waves lap greedily at my feet.
Join me.

I can hear it now.
The mermaid song.
Can hear it like I used to.
As the wind blows me into the waves,
And the ocean pulls at my legs,
And the now black clouds obscure the moon,
The mermaids sing higher.
They beckon.

I can almost hear them fully now.
Underwater, drifting beneath the waves,
I open my ears.

And I scream.
Black water fills my lungs.
And the mermaids screech and try to pull me under as the rain begins.
It pummels the surface of the waves,
Fighting to keep me below,
As the ocean tries to consume me.

And I fight too,
Lifted by a rouge current,
And splutter as for a moment I cough up the ocean, reject its embrace.

Angrily it throws me under.
And as I struggle for air, I gasp,
Remember how to swim up,
And with my last strength swim for the surface, and then the shore.

I wake on the the beach,
Choking, my throat full of brackish vomit,
But alive.
Alive and free.

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