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Ocean Breaths

by Vita


When you remember the ocean, don’t forget about how it smelled.

It’s a hard thing to describe. Pleasant and unpleasant at once, clean but decaying. Salt and vapor, seaweed and fish; all the things the tide tosses, all the things the wind sweeps in to land. It’s intoxicating, but its fragrance is not like a flower, or like some exotic herb or spice. No, you would never wear this scent as a perfume. Even if you wanted to, you could never put something so alive in a bottle. This smell is half a feeling; this air is almost a drug.

It’s a cleaning smell. Damp, wild, melancholy and joyful at once. It empties you out, fills you up. It crowds out everything else, draws it out of you like poison from a snakebite, and it scrapes you smooth. It scours you with salt crystals, sterilizes the surfaces and planes of your insides with its brine, and it races through the dark whooshing passages like an echo, combs out tangled nerves, fills empty caverns of your chest with its silvery dankness. It is in the chambers of your heart, it is singing in your veins.

Ocean air is more than scent; it is your whole breath. It is all around you, a rushing in your ears, the shifting, tide rippled sand under your feet, the rainbow of beach-glass weighting your pockets, these are part of it. The footprints behind you are an offering to it, a tribute to the tide that will devour them come sunset. All the pieces of you that are too jagged to fit elsewhere, the sea sands them down to fit her curves, to nestle in the cradle of her waves. All your worries, your fears, your spurns; breathe them out here. Let them become wind, let the tide take them, turn them, and wash them in again for someone else to breathe, let them become a part of the sad and ecstatic scent of the ocean. Let them go.

Let yourself feel your transience, your infancy. Prostrate before the ocean more ancient than any altar; can you touch your own impermanence? In her song more ancient than any hymn, can you hear your funeral march? The immortal changing heartbeat of her waves is your mortality pounding in your ears.

Your life is so brief. The ghost-gray gull with silent wings and vengeful screams is brief, yet doesn’t know it yet. The whale whose weathered vertebrae are rising battered, salt-stained from the sand was brief, yet knew so many things you never will. Let yourself know your own wisdom and your own ignorance.

Yet know this: you are here. You are standing before the great mysterious sea, green and silver and black and dreaming. You are alive, you are awake, and you are breathing great gasping desperate breaths, and you are blessed with wonder at the same time as you are terrified by it. And when you think of the ocean, when you conjure this moment up in your memories: don’t forget how it smells.


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40 Reviews


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Reviews: 40

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Mon Oct 19, 2020 6:10 am
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Euphoria8 wrote a review...



Oh. My. God. This is an outstanding piece! I love imagery and descriptive sentences and this did it for me! I am so awestruck by the way you described everything I love about the beach, everything! I felt every word right down to my bones!

I love the contradictions of the scent of the sea that you mentioned in the first paragaraph. It was just perfect!

And the second paragraph, AAAGGGHHHHHHH it has to be my absolute favorite part of this entire story, it's just..so...good!!!! I love the metaphors, the similes, the word choice, the flow everything!!!

The next few paragraphs tell us about how there are so many things we will never know, so many things out of our reaches, like we are just a small microorganism of the universe. As someone who ponders these sorts of things, those lines really spoke straight to my heart!

Overall, I adored this masterpiece and encourage you to keep writing! Thank you so much for sharing and keep growing <3




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Mon Oct 19, 2020 12:59 am
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I love this piece. It is so raw and true, I can feel your emotions through it.This writing captures the complexity and eternity of the ocean and the comfort and curiosity it creates. It reminds me of an incredible fantasy book I just read, called The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska, featuring a queer female romance, which I highly recommend.




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10 Reviews


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Mon Oct 19, 2020 12:59 am
queenofportalverse wrote a review...



I love this piece. It is so raw and true, I can feel your emotions through it.This writing captures the complexity and eternity of the ocean and the comfort and curiosity it creates. It reminds me of an incredible fantasy book I just read, called The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska, featuring a queer female romance, which I highly recommend.




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Wed Aug 26, 2020 2:12 pm
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starlitmind wrote a review...



Hey there! I saw this cool piece in the Green Room and decided to check it out :D

Ooh, I love the imagery of this piece. It's so real, if that makes sense, and it really brings the ocean alive. I like how you associate the ocean with "healing" - like the passage of letting go. You use such descriptive and vivd langue. I really enjoyed reading this! I'm going to point out some of my thoughts along the way if you don't mind.

all the things the wind sweeps in to land.


I believe "in to" should be one word

No, you would never wear this scent as a perfume, even if you wanted to, you could never put something so alive in a bottle.


Ooh, I think this is a pretty neat description! I love how you describe the ocean/beach as "alive." This is a run-on sentence. You can fix this by changing the comma after "perfume" to a period or a semicolon.

It crowds out everything else, draws it out of you like poison from a snakebite, and it scrapes you smooth, it scours you with salt crystals, sterilizes the surfaces and planes of your insides with it’s brine, it races through the dark whooshing passages like an echo, combs out tangled nerves, fills empty caverns of your chest with it’s silvery dankness.


I love your similes and metaphors and imagery. They're so unique! It feels just like poetry. This part in particular, I really loved, but since it was so long, I was getting all of the similes/metaphors/imagery mixed up. I would recommend breaking this down, and I'll show you how I would do it!

"It crowds out everything else, draws it out of you like poison from a snakebite, and it scrapes you smooth. It scours you with salt crystals, sterilizes the surfaces and planes of your insides with its brine, and it races through the dark whooshing passages like an echo, combing out tangled nerves and filling empty caverns of your chest with its silvery dankness."

There are obviously more ways to break this down, but this is just one way! :)

It is in the chambers of your heart, it is singing in your veins.


This is technically a run-on as well, but I kind of like it?

It is all around you, a rushing in your ears, the shifting, tide rippled sand under your feet, the rainbow of beach-glass weighting your pockets, these are part of it.


Pretty descriptions!

All the pieces of you that are too jagged to fit elsewhere, the sea sands them down to fit her curves, to nestle in the cradle of her waves.


I love this

Let them become wind, and let the tide take them, and turn them, and wash them in again for someone else to breathe, let them become a part of the sad and ecstatic scent of the ocean.


I really like this idea! But for this sentence, because you had so many commas and with the repetition of "and," I kept pausing and it disrupted the "easy feeling" or the feeling of letting go - I felt rushed and uneasy, if that makes sense. I would try to rewrite this sentence to give it a more flowing and easy feel, just by combining things so you wouldn't need so many "ands" and commas.

Prostrate before the ocean more ancient than any altar


I love this idea too ahh

The whale whose weathered vertebrae are rising battered, salt-stained from the sand was brief


Your descriptions!! <33

Yet know this: You are here.


I don't think you need to capitalize "you" after the colon.

And when you think of the ocean, when you conjure this moment up in your memories: don’t forget how it smells.


I love the full circle of this piece! It goes right back to the beginning, and it closes this piece really nicely. It feels complete like this. This was really nice <3

Overall, this was quite the lovely piece. You've introduced the ocean in a new way. I really enjoyed reading this, and I hope this helped! :D




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Wed Aug 26, 2020 1:49 am
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MemoryHunter wrote a review...



Hello, this is MemoryHunter here to review your prose!

First off, I must say that I am in love with the way you describe the ocean. As a person who grew up in a place famous for its beaches, I was mesmerized by the accuracy of your description. I never thought of the scent of the waters as something clean but decaying - but I knew that was true. I love how you used the sense of smell in your imagery.

I particularly loved this part:

Yet know this: You are here. You are standing before the great mysterious sea, green and silver and black and dreaming. You are alive, you are awake, and you are breathing great gasping desperate breaths, and you are blessed with wonder at the same time as you are terrified by it.


I spotted a few errors though:
In the first paragraph -
Salt and vapor, seaweed and fish; All the things the tide tosses, all the things the wind sweeps in to land.

The All following the semicolon should not be capitalized.

In the second paragraph -
it scours you with salt crystals, sterilizes the surfaces and planes of your insides with it’s brine

fills empty caverns of your chest with it’s silvery dankness


The "it's" in both phrases should be "its".

Just small nitpicks - everything else is alright!

Thank you for sharing this work. It was a pleasant journey to read.





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