Flavia Velasquez Cotini on the endless search for the right words. Illustrations by Anja Segmüller.


There is a feeling I experience over and over – an urge to say something meaningful. My hands reach out expectantly for pen and paper as if performing a lucky ritual. Like a growing undertow, my urge rumbles, gathers and gathers. The urge brews in the depths, builds momentum. The urge whirlpools passing passions into lasting currents. Emotions swell towards the paper like the tide seeking the moon, reach out, demand expression. 

Then there is a sudden pull – my loose thoughts spill over the pebbly surface of the page. Images crashing and breaking against sobering stillness, propelling seafoam into the air, rumpling the Edenic crispness of the page.  

The passing of time holds a distilling power upon matter. It extracts the message, I tell myself. I put my faith in it, await its effect, pace my heart to its ebb and flow. Only at my low tide do I return to inspect the page’s dishevelled shore. Once waves have receded from it, the paper resembles the sight of a shipwreck – mine. I inspect whatever is left. Lone, crystallised words; the reduced remains of an ample mess. Solidified phrases from an evaporated sermon. Anything rough, anything rock-like and grainy endures. Something to say, one hopes? Something meaningful among the rubble?

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Grit. Lumpy words of brine and crumbled seashell I can hardly recognise as mine. What is it that they spell out – if anything at all?

Artwork by Anja Segmuller.