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Stephanie Niu

I Crossed the Sea Boardwalk

Tentatively as if entering

back into a dream. Faulty beams

were marked with orange cones.

I stepped lightly. My blue dress blew

in the wind, long and impractical.

In practice, I had been here before.

I had practiced returning for years

in my mind. When I reached the clearing,

I was devastated to find nothing

had changed. The ice plants

sat green, wet, chalky with salt.

Limestone jagged toward the horizon.

The blue-billed seabirds regarded me

with warranted suspicion.


If the dream is dreamlike as real life,

I reasoned, then nothing can be real.

Yet I sat in a patch of matted grass seasoned

with salt I could feel. The mystery of eels

is that we don’t know exactly how they breed.

Aristotle thought they come from nothing.

The miracle is that there is any other way

to arrive. I am saying I stepped off

the same boardwalk twice. Behind me,

a plane left the island carrying someone I love.

Ice plants carry entire seasons of water

in their leaves. Drunk from the air.

Come from nothing. I came from nothing

and when I returned, it was still there.

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Stephanie Niu is a poet and writer from Marietta, Georgia. She is the author of Survived By, winner of the 2023 Host Publications Chapbook Prize, and She Has Dreamt Again of Water, winner of the 2021 Diode Editions Chapbook Contest. Her work has appeared in The Georgia Review, Literary Hub, The Missouri Review, Copper Nickel, The Offing, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship for community archiving research on Christmas Island, through which she published Our Island, Our Future: A Zine of Youth Poetry On Christmas Island.

Bear Review


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