What We Teach 

 

In my English class,

a student is not allowed 

to say:

 

“I think things are pretty self-explanatory.”

 

We are talking about the ocean

and swimming as a sense of freedom.

 

Let’s start 

on how 

there’s a different sentido 

on whether you say

sea,

ocean, 

or la mer because you see, you 

flip a and e, French to 

Spanish el mar

and the body of water

becomes a masculine

you enter

and the moon, still

a goddess. 

 

Then we can think

on how

what you are peacefully

treading, squiggling shape

sweet release 

of bodily tension,

being held

by something you will 

never be bigger than,

can also swell,

bulldoze

impact, like slamming flat

on concrete

destroyer of towns, forest,

catalyst of mass migrations. 

 

To swim is fully 

submerged vantage

of loved land, home 

to all you’ve ever known, 

a steady beneath

quite possibly

people there too,

unmasked (because outside) 

and in permanent 

chaise-lounge repose,

moments of pure unseam,

congenial congregation.

 

Because to swim is to bre - athe into voice

rumbles, sonorous

murmurs with every answer—

tongue of Oshun 

laps reverb, and just whispers

constant speaking seeking

inward and in, in.

 

In this light, everything is undertone green

and whereas up north,

the color scheme is

a covered-up grey—foggy, mist, stone—

 

the green of beach

is searing, condensation, humidity

 

legs itching from seeing so much sun

and that is freedom. 

Lucia Herrmann is a cubanita of the yuma kind. Miami-raised and Philly-based, she writes, performs, and collaborates on all kinds of creative projects. She was featured in two 2019 Philly FringeArts productions, has been published in print and online, and is a former poetry editor for Toho Journal. She graduated from Haverford College in 2017 with a degree in English and focus in Latinx Lit. As an artist-educator, she is dedicated to teaching, empowering, and uplifting individuals and communities through decolonized and anti-racist pedagogy and practice. Visit her website luciaherrmann.com to learn more.