Last night I dreamed I was the sea—
a monolith of oceans, hand in hand.
The rivers wandered into me;
I breathed soft waves upon the sand
and settled in the icy deep,
took refuge from the distant shore.
I shifted once in silent sleep
then settled soft and moved no more.
The stars were now flowers and I, the sky,
held up by only dreaming thought.
My gaze descended from the height
though I was in the distance caught
and woven into starlight.
I sent a whisper hovering low
into the dark and misty night
to touch the empty towns below,
each house my home, untouched by light.
The labyrinth rows of landscapes grow:
see scores of houses in the gloam.
See scores of people, turned to stone.
I was the sea.
Until I woke. I raised my head,
once more a body in a bed.
I woke, disappointed to find I was me.
I closed my eyes, whispered, the flowers were stars
and I was the endless, unbreakable sea.
Madison Barendse is 17 years old and attends Southeast High School. Her poem “Exodus” won first place in the 2022 Manatee Libraries and 805 Teen Poetry Contest.