East Coast Poetry Club: Sarah Kierstead

For the third week of East Coast Poetry Club, we’re sharing a piece by multi-talented New Brunswick artist Sarah Kierstead. “Glass Waters” is a reflection on the places we find solitude and how to cope with difficult memories from the past.

Read "Glass Waters", along with Kierstead's own words on the inspiration for the poem.

Welcome back to the East Coast Poetry Club. So far, we've shared work from Kanaar Bell and Anna Quon. This week, we have the honour of sharing "Glass Waters", a poem and song by Sarah Kierstead. Sarah lives and works in Fredericton, New Brunswick. She shared a few words about her inspiration for this deeply personal piece.

(Sarah Kierstead for CBC)

For as far back as my memory takes me, I have found water to be a sound place of refuge. My sisters and I were deeply fortunate to spend our summers growing up at a little yellow cottage out on Grand Lake. I discovered from an early age that cooling waters were one of nature's most promising remedies for a heavy heart, and still, the lake is a place I find solitude.

This song began as a poem and formed into a melody as I started to learn a handful of chords on the guitar last year. It was written from a particular memory floating on the Head Pond in Mactaquac on a late summer's day. My body had felt the heavy weight of heartbreak in the midst of being surrounded by a group of people at a party.

Feeling as if I was starting to lose my own composure, I jumped in the water to get away and off by myself to think. It wasn't long before I had drifted far by the current. I wrote this as a reflection of tension between the safety and peace I had in my own solitude and the regret and confusion and fear that gripped me while trying to fight the current against the loss of a love.

Kierstead shared these two questions to keep in mind while you read the poem: 

Are there places you know to go to seek solitude? 

What is something you have released and what have you learned from the things you let go of in the past? 

Glass Waters

Pastel skies glide overhead 
I whisper to myself 
All of the things I wish I had said 

Sink beneath glass waters
Safe in the stillness 
Revived by these currents 

All I ever say is I don't know 
All I ever do is let things go 

Wash me clean here on the lake 
I cannot remember 
Who I was last December 

All I ever say is I don't know 
All I ever do is let things go 

I've been trying to get back 
Oh I've been trying 
But your shoreline is further than it looks 
And I cannot outlast my own striving 
I am better off out there 
In the light of the horizon 

If I could stay right here 
Forever, I'd be happy 
But only as you swim out to me

"Glass Waters" started out as a poem, but as Kierstead began to learn a few chords on guitar, it evolved into a song. Below, watch her perform it.


Sarah Kierstead is a Fredericton-based photographer.