the girl who used to be the sea

Author: Devisi Goel

i saw her standing under the sea,
peering at the calamity

a body oil-stained, smelling like plastic dried in the sun
she turned away from the mirrors, wondering what she had become

where was that dress she wore, so blue and glistening,
light would sprinkle off her bodice, as if the fabric was listening

i asked her, can’t you see the breaths
could she see the life in the rolling waves, tame their hairs so curly
sleep inside the seaweed, surely

someone had asked her to dance,
music whispering from the mouths of shells, could she not feel
the sand kissing her heels

yet now i see her lying bare
exposed except for the salt and the air

and her breaths seem quick, her stomach too shallow
so i rolled her into the ocean, the water was callous

presented her with jewelry, soda can earrings, candy-wrapper necklace
saw her whimpering, but i turned away
beauty cannot exist without pain

the mermaids held her hands and
man took his fork and dug into her trembling being
ate her beauty without agreements

perhaps, she began to cry
but tears and sea-water belong to the same species
her sadness became part of the ocean, just another piece.

Devisi Goel is the winner of 2022 Linda J. Zhang Award for Writing Achievement.

Here is her poem about “the girl who used to be the sea”. We hope this beautiful poem not only makes people realize the “pain” and calamity resulting from human behaviors, but also brings about more actions to protect the environment.