Sienna Kurland

My Life With the Ocean


Reds! Blues! Yellows! Fish swimming around me as I snorkel in the clear, warm water. They swim up so close I can feel the water rustle around me from their beating fins and it amuses me to try and catch them. I breathe slowly in and out through my snorkel while I float over a bustling, aquatic city. Suddenly, I hear my name being called out by somebody close by. I break the surface of the water and look around anxiously for the source of the voice. It is my sister a few yards away beckoning me to come to her. While I’m swimming to where she is bobbing in the waves, I realize she’s holding something in her hands under the water. “Close your eyes and put out your hands,” she says, “Trust me, just do it!” My curiosity gets the better of me and I decide to close my eyes and stick my hands out to receive my mysterious gift. I wait impatiently as she lowers it into my hands. AIEEEE! A squishy, orange SLUG! It sucks to my hands and its little tentacles wave at me happily. My hands jerk involuntarily in surprise and I fling the helpless sea slug away from me. With a small kerplunk, it harmlessly sinks back down into the water. Still in shock, I shout at my sister and splash water in her face.


Ow, erk, arggh, eek!
It hurts so much I cannot speak
How can something so beautiful and bright
Give me such a terrible fright?
As this horrible, peeling, itching, mess
Upon my back, but I confess
I did not put on that lotion
I did not have the notion
That while I was swimming in the ocean
My poor, unprotected back
Was undergoing an attack
So now I must wait for this misery to be gone,
Next time – I guess
I’ll put some on.

The Spot

This has got to be my grandest sandcastle yet. It has a moat, four towers, and is even decorated with pretty white shells and corals. I have been working on this castle all afternoon and it’s time to take a break. I walk over to our straw mats that we put our things on, grab a bottle of water, and sit gazing out over the waves. The sea is calm and glittering with little waves that spill almost lazily onto the beach. I drink my water, which has become warm from the sun. I am mesmerized by how the sun makes the water seem to have sparkles in it when my mom utters a noise of surprise and says, “Look! A seal! Do you see it?” I snap out of my stupor and look around quickly. In no time, I spot the seal playing in the water. I stand up to get a closer look. As I watch it swimming around, I notice it is coming into shore. It flops onto the beach almost right in front of us. “Don’t get too close, they can be dangerous!” my mother says. The seal is now coming up the beach, and – going right towards my sandcastle! I watch helplessly as the seal crushes my castle with its considerable mass of blubber. The seal shifts around for a bit getting comfortable, then closes its eyes and lies still. It just sat on my sandcastle! I watch it in disbelief for a few minutes until a group of people come running down the beach. “Stay away from the seal!” some of them yell. They quickly put up a perimeter of caution tape around the seal and make us move up the beach away from our spot. They explain that this particular seal comes to this spot every day to sun and rest. How I chose this exact spot to make my sandcastle I will never know, but I suppose the seal had the original claim so my sandcastle was rightly hers.


Shells along the winding sand beach
Little shells, heaps and heaps
Scallops and periwinkles of every hue
Tiny cat’s paws, turkey wings, too
A fighting conch, a jewelry box
A graceful whelk among the rocks
Delicate shells, but a powerful sea
Soon nothing but sand will be left for me.

The Day

Today is the day I get to do something I’ve wanted to try my entire life. I get to breathe underwater. My heart is palpitating rapidly in my chest as I secure all my equipment that I learned how to use earlier today in the swimming pool.

Vest, check.

Tank, check.

Weight belt, check.

Fins, check.

Mask, check.

I think I’m ready. I take a steadying breath and leap off the boat and into the dark, scary ocean. The cold water stuns me for a few seconds as it envelops me. I open my eyes and then widen them in awe. I breathe slowly and as steadily as I can as I look around at the shimmering world around me. I see fish swimming in schools and giant green rocks many feet below me covered in sea life. Holding on to the rope that is anchored to the bottom, I slowly dive lower, equalizing every few feet when the water pressure presses too hard onto my sinuses. I explore around the rocks with my dive instructor. Beautiful parrotfish swim by as well as colorful triggerfish and tarpons. I see a scary-looking barracuda, which I avoid. My eyes have been wide with amazement all this time, and I haven’t been noticing how much time has gone by. My instructor notices, however and makes the hand signal for “up.” We swim back to the rope and slowly rise, equalizing along the way. Finally, we break the surface and I climb up into the boat, beaming.

At Peace

Sand between my salty toes
Breeze blowing my damp hair
Sun warming my closed eyelids
Waves soothing my listening ears
Nothing troubling my wandering mind


Copyright 2002-2006 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2006 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.