“Genes of 500 Million-Year-Old Sea Monsters Live Inside Us” by Samantha Kolber

Samantha Kolber


I swim in an ocean where every segmented body
is another poet, or a writer,
a floating leaf
extracted from the paper
of books never written, or written
but forgotten or written but not loved,
which is to say
never published. And what is publishing
but someone else’s rubber stamp?
An outsider’s approval like the mother’s love
we really crave, or like the mirror, broken
into shards fallen—no falling, gliding, shimmering,
shining—at the bottom of the sea. What monsters
are we to want to pick up the pieces?
I hear the mother in me say, so no one gets hurt,
as if cerulean creatures lurking
down there, in the ocean’s fractured trenches, are children,
or were children once, and we still lurk
in those dark places. Or,
we’ll be barefoot again soon. Spring
is coming. See?
See that sunshine? Who’ll be the first
to walk bare-skinned out over still-frozen
dirt and stone? Sea monsters. Poets. Who
will be first to thaw?

from Poets Respond
April 8, 2021


Samantha Kolber: “I wrote from a prompt from Bianca Stone, who shared this news clip on Instagram and said, ‘Your one task today is to write a poem with this title. And have it be actually about your mom. But not say that directly. And to end with a question.’ So I did.” (web)

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