You told me to swim faster
when fish had already made my lungs their home.
So I cried the salt water from my body
to let them know they are not welcome here
and made them leave through my mouth
together with the apology.
I drowned for you, gladly, over and over,
and I would still rather have tidal waves break inside me,
than have them crashing into you.
But see, a person can only tread water for so long,
before growing tired,
especially, when keeping my head above water,
means hearing you tell me about the people throwing you life-savers and ladders
while I’m still struggling to reach you.
And even now I’ll let webs inhabit the space between my fingers,
to make me a better navigator of your sadness,
I learned to breathe underwater,
to fill every crevice of my body with it,
so that there would be less of left for you.
You asked me, why I’m still trying?
told me that you neither want or need me anymore,
and I can’t say I blame you;
I was never big enough to empty your seas,
or strong enough to pull you out,
I’m sorry it wasn’t me that saved you.
And waving to the fully equipped life-boat you’re speeding away in,
I realize you’ve left me your ocean.
by Lilian Kelley, 16, John F. Kennedy School, Berlin, Germany