to the girl who once was me

Sebastian Merrill
| poetry


I find comfort in the rhythm
++++++of the tide’s twice-daily cycle,
++++++++++++covering, then revealing

++++++++++++over ten feet of snails and seaweed,
++++++slippery rock. This long, slow breath
a constant reminder of the moon’s

pull, that no transition occurs
++++++in pure isolation. It’s easier
++++++++++++to carry my kayak to the water

++++++++++++when the tide is high. I cinch tight
++++++my life vest before I launch.
The snug hold around my chest

reminds me of binding: the ache
++++++of my back, my tight breath.
++++++++++++I wound muslin over and over

++++++++++++your breasts, tried ACE bandages,
++++++duct tape, compression binders,
learned how to hide your body

so I might be seen. I turned
++++++away from you—

++++++++++++I had to.

Sebastian Merrill’s debut poetry collection GHOST :: SEEDS was selected by Kimiko Hahn as the winner of the 2022 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize and is forthcoming in Fall 2023 from Texas Review Press. A member of the 2023 Get the Word Out inaugural poetry cohort for debut writers from Poets & Writers and the 2022-23 winner of the Levis Prize for Poetry from Friends of Writers, Sebastian holds an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College.

Gender Diagram VI