Sea Glass by Stina Trollbäck

My sister’s eyes are free-floating blue velella jellyfish.

She’s eight years old.

Her skin is terracotta clay, and she dips her toes in effervescent seafoam.

She has sword-shaped persistence like yucca leaves.


She looks up at me and says, “I like waves.”

Her toes are wetter than fresh cement.

My corkboard knees bend like sheet metal,

because she is eight years old and loves sand more than cobblestone streets.

“I wish I could talk to waves,” she says.

I ask her why.

“Because waves probably know everything.”

Her innocence is warming and magmatic,

giving off enough heat to turn the sand under her feet into glass.


My grandmother walks towards us,

skin flaking and dissolving into the air, wrinkles curling around her lips like crests of waves.

Age pulls her closer to the earth as quickly as plaster and polyester pull me away.

My sister is so close to the ground

that her pinstriped happiness cartwheels,

and bluebells drip from her fingertips.

My grandmother sits down in the sand. A checkered rosemary scent radiates around her,

rippling and wringing outwards.


A wave crashes.


“Do oceans get mad?” my sister asks.


I think the ocean holds amicable anger, mellower than forklifts and power washers.

A flitting temper that aligns with endangerment of flora and fauna

and the squalor of bottom trawlers.

Anger more stubborn than the continuum of circling riptides.


I tell her, “I think so.”

“Good,” she whispers. “I would be mad if I were them.”

“Me too,” says our grandmother.