WATCH: “Mermaid Esther: An Astonishing Fire” by Rachel Kann

It is a great honor to share this poetry film directed by Brad Cooper with you.

Mermaid Esther: An Astonishing Fire has been shortlisted for the Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival.

Special thanks to Elad and Hevria for choosing to feature this video here.



Hold on there, Mermaid Esther,
Don’t forget: your skill set
Has been custom-built.

Remember what you were born for.
You’ve got this.
I promise that this discontent is divine,
Despite the pain you’re swimming in.

Although you’re going under,
Sister, there will be no drowning today.
Dive unfathomable fathoms deeper.
Rather than look for loopholes,
Fashion a life raft from
The strands of your very real suffering.
Do not be deceived,
This misery
Is no doled-out punishment from on high,
It is a knock at the door of your heart
From inside.

Your soul is an imprisoned star
Fishing for clemency.
Let the cage swing.
Throw it open.

You are built of double helixes,
A swirling evolutionary journey.
This life is a spiraling tide pool.
The view of glorious sunlight will
Spin to the dark side of the moon,
As it is bound to do
With every revolution.

I call on you to remember you,
Back before you became your own wet metaphor,
The innocent kid who turned cartwheels
Naked, shameless and pure.
That wild girl who walked into the ocean,
Delighting in the cold bite.
The dreamer who believed
In infinity’s limitless possibility.
The precocious princess
Not yet stripped of her intuition.

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Remember when you could clearly see the truth
Of what was muddying the grownups all around you?
How you’d watch them rationalize,
Tell themselves lies,
Overcomplicate, bury their pain,
Only to inevitably explode later
In the most inappropriate, unrelated,
And dangerous of ways—
Over and over again?

Remember the self-sworn oath?
Your vow to never let that be you?
There’s no roundabout route to salvation,
The only way out is through.

Don’t confuse husk with vessel,
Lest you self-immolate.
Subsumed in ocean,
While an astonishing fire blazes within.
You must spill forth this light,
Or be consumed from inside.

This is the sacred act of spark extraction.
This is returning to the knowing in your bones.
No more ignoring your internal warning system.
No more denying inner guidance.
No more collapsing under the depth charge of confusion.

Sister Mermaid Esther,
Gather all of the flooding love
That spilled in surging waves
From every single heartbreak.
Return it to the heart-home of your ribs,
Interstitial glow flowing out from within.

Toward the shore,
There is a lighthouse of a little girl,
Sturdy-legged, faithful and patient,
Beaming rhythm-encoded messages to you:
Swim up to the glimmering surface.
Break through.


With infinite gratitude beyond to my mentors Sarah Yehudit Schneider and Rabbi Yona Aryeh Refson, for the writing of this poem. And to Brad Cooper, Atom Smith, Sou MacMillan and Randy Greif for their invaluable contributions to the creation of this film.


Photo: Still shot from Mermaid Esther shoot by Brad Cooper.