Sammie Terpening

On Moving


They say that moving is fine, if harrowing.

The change washes like a wave hits on the Jersey shore, all salt and

wetness and the moment of pain

and then it’s gone

like it never happened

and how lucky are you, that you’ve never experienced it?

Your love is like this:

Sea Isle,

Wildwood Crest,

Atlantic City and Point Pleasant, if a little more soured.

There are a million cities you haven’t been

to and there are a dozen you have, but none

are like the salt,

the sweetness,

the fake smiles,

the boho shops that steal your money,

the tired residents that come with.

You loved it so much that you thought about

moving to Long Beach Island when you were

twelve, scoping out the schools around town

and looking at house pricing.

Is it so lucky, then, that you never did?


What happens in Staten Island stays in Staten Island.

The fight club of the city, it’s got rules, it’s got a reputation

that lasts a mile and some.

Mostly, it’s that rule, and run the fuck away while you can, kid.

You, who didn’t happen in Staten Island, did not stay.

Lucky. You never did like this place, did you?

Even if you fight for it now.

And there is a beach down on the north shore,

With waves like overworked labor

scents like everything wrong with this damn town.

You don’t go; you never have the time.

But you always wish you did, because


The best part of those beach side towns:

the salt in your eyes

the water in your lungs

the lurch of sand under your feet.

The moment that’s gone too quick.

As much as you hate change, you love

fluidity in the ocean, how it never stills.

It could bring you along if it felt like it.

Be lucky you’re not dead.

All this to say, in every word except the fact:

you have never moved, consider it lucky, but don’t.

Wandering soul you are.

Lover of the state everyone else hates.

Of the borough everyone wishes didn’t exist, except you.

The one who wishes to be the waves.

Sammie Terpening (they/them) is a queer and autistic freshman from New York City. They are currently a creative writing major at SUNY Purchase, and have been writing poetry for almost five years. Besides writing, Sammie is a musician with vocal training.