A Journal

"I'm going to come back to West Virginia when this is over. There's something ancient and deeply-rooted in my soul. I like to think that I have left my ghost up one of those hollows, and I'll never really be able to leave for good until I find it. And I don't want to look for it, because I might find it and have to leave".----Breece D'J Pancake, in a letter to his mother. 

Rebecca Alifimoff

Long Beach Island



As a child, I feared the ocean, waited
for storms to turn the water navy, push

seaweed and knickknacks, an empty
wallet, a broken bottle, to the high tide mark.

The next day, I would pile shells, call them castles, atop
the dunes. My vocabulary did not include the word defile

I made sunburnt pilgrimages
to the wreck of a schooner once dashed

to pieces on the sandbar. The island has grown around it
with sandy disregard. Sun stripped grass sprouting between its boards.

My mother and her sisters shake their heads
at the hull, clucking about the passage of time.

Now I am grown. No one checks to make sure my nose
has not become a tomato in the sun. I sit with the other girls

and toast on my towel, until my itching legs
drive me down the beach to the decaying mast.

There I strip, and trusting the imprint of my toes to the shoreline,
follow the tightrope of foam until I stand thigh deep

in the water, nicked legs stinging with salt.
If I stay here long enough the ocean will give me up.


My favorite souvenir is a yellow rain jacket that I brought on a whim while studying abroad in France. Right as I stepped out of the shop it started to pour and didn't stop all weekend. We were visiting some of my host-relatives for the holiday weekend in a particularly rainy part of the country and while we were standing in the boulangerie line on Sunday my host mom told me that I looked like a native. Now if only I could speak like one too...



Rebecca Alifimoff is a student in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She was named a 2014 Foyle Young Poet of the Year and was a Foyle Commended Poet 2015. She is an alum of the Kenyon Young Writers Conference and the Adroit Journal Mentorship. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Haverthorn, Magma Poetry, Persephone’s Daughters, and the Foyle Young Poets Anthology 2014. In the fall she will attend the University of Pennsylvania.