‘One Blood, One Sky, It All Collides’ by Devin Whelligan-Woodworth, Age 16, Year 11, Upton Hall School

I found a heap at the bottom of my door step,
It was a girl speaking thickly in
Fractured tongues.

She was all jutting bones,
And rubbery flesh,
Clutching at pieces of home.
She held her own world in her clammy palms:
Of sweat,
Of germs,
And nails like napalms
Carving crescent moons into rough skin.
All callous and scar tissue
Building bridges between each limb.

Two dark eyes glinted from the heap.
Though her words were garbled and strained,
Her eyes flicked with fire.
I let myself sink into the puddles
Forming around her:
A moat
Of the tears
That peeled
Like petals
From her aching eyes.

I found myself submerged.
Being tossed by tumults of ever-breaking water.
I had always feared the sea.

The gelid waves undulated.
I broke the surface,
Dejected at the sound
Of a screaming dirge.
Friends floated around me,
Terror curled at my ankles like seaweed
Slick and creeping.

Don’t you hate the sea?

I do. I do.

With feverish mercy
The waves shifted into cliffs,
Shining bright
Like the pearly white teeth
Of some giant beast.
I found myself shuddering into an exhausted heap.

We hated the sea.

I was sent back to myself
Slumped at my doorstep,
I traced the engravings on the girls back.
The story revealed itself through her skin.
A story of break and mend,
A stretch, a strain, a bend.
The way the boat had rocked on the shore,
Homeland suppurating,
Parents turned into two sets of hands
Reaching in desperation,
Trying to fill in the gap between sea and land.

There was more for her to miss than for her to gain.
Shivering at my doorstep,
It began to rain.
As I pulled her in through the doorway,
I avoided her catatonic gaze
Until I realised
We were the same.
Though she comes from far lands,
Though we hold a different name.

We both come from a mother,
Who was strong and untamed.
We both share the same sky,
And stand on two feet.
There’s no difference between us.
There’s a reason that borders meet.

Something numinous hangs between us:
A heavy cloth
Of ambiguity.
I pull it down.
We hug close.
I become her,
She becomes me.
We merge together,
We are land meeting sea.
The borders slip away.
The world could be free,
If we let it be.