Drawing Inspiration from the Bay Swim by Anna Geiger

On September 28th, the SOTA creative writing department visited the Dolphin Club, which is a private establishment bordering the San Francisco bay where members can swim in the ocean or spend time on the beach. The first two weeks of every creative writing year are dedicated to building community, and this outing is my favorite of the many that we do. Plunging into the frigid waters of the bay as a class always proves to be a bonding experience, as well as great inspiration for creative work. I have always been fascinated by the ocean, particularly the sensory experiences, including the smell of saline air, the texture of sand, sounds of waves breaking. After the trip this year, I sat on the bus on the way home listening to music and thinking about how I would creatively respond, when the song I was listening to ended, and Clair de Lune began to play. For those who are not familiar with the piece, it is a classical movement composed by Claude Debussy. It is slow-moving and elegant, reminiscent of a lullaby, and rhythmically reminded me of hearing waves crashing on the shore of the Dolphin Club. The piece primarily features sequences of light, high notes followed by a low note, which in my mind mirrored the sound of waves rising and falling evenly against the sand. I wrote a poem for my response, in which I have used rhyme, meter, and musical vocabulary to portray this aspect of the theme. The poem is included below:

 

Song of the Sea

My legs are swimming in heavy blue sheets,
head resting where a maternal hand meets;
whose hum sways to a movement floors below,
whose lithe fingers dance as chords ebb and flow.

Woodwinds whir through the month of November,
strings sing until the end of December;
my apricity each day that only fades
as sleep marks the close of cold winter days.

On my head, mother plays the Clair de Lune,
reclines in a bath of light of the moon.
Behind my closed eyelids, in darkness seeps,
and slowly I’m slipping, into the deeps.

After three breaths of cadence, one of rest,
I resurface to find that I’ve left the nest.
To a haven where song comes to run free,
I am cradled in the arms of the sea.

Into flowering seagrass my toes sink,
wading through schools of fish dotted with ink,
Leaping over anemone blowing
as the arm waves, flowing and reflowing.

As the tide rises, my limbs rise up too,
dancing as I bid the seastars adieu.
It’s been a short visit, but I’ll return soon
when my mother hums as I greet the moon.

There is a song found only in the sea,
that lives in the waves and is played for me.
A crescendo as the sea’s arm takes hold,
a cado as I succumb to its fold.

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