“Transform” By Sarah Jane Mulvey


By Sarah Jane Mulvey



The ocean is our world’s finest artist.
She is multi-talented

– a sculptor, painter, weaver, dancer –

Each treasure, great and small

Offered up to our searching hands

To collect in pockets and keepsake jars.

all her glittering gifts at our fingertips.


She turns even disaster into something to marvel at –

Shipwrecks scattered on the ocean floor

Become home to an abundance of life,

Full of coral and seaweed, tiny crustaceans and fish

Each detail lovingly carved and cradled,

The careful art of a sailor’s grave.


Have you considered how many genres she has perfected

When you stare at the deep, impossible purple

Inside a quahog shell?

Or the perfect symmetry of a cowrie?

the dramatic flare of a conch shell,

With its sunrise pink lace?

You probably have one of these tiny masterpieces
Somewhere in your  home

Set on a shelf or coffee table

Contained and complete as it is.
Her artist’s signature

The sound of rushing surf

When you hold it to your ear.


Her imagination and ingenuity
On full display as she sketches out

coastlines – inlets and harbors,

Dramatic cliffs and stunning beaches,

Ribboned with seafoam and salt.
A tireless perfectionist,

Her waves crash and recede

Redrawing those lines

Over, and over, and over again.
We build our homes so close to those borders

A desire to reach out and touch her

In the midst of her process

And we’re always surprised

When she must eventually rush past us

Overwhelmed in her ecstasy

As she clears her canvas.


She’s managed to make something out of

The amalgamation of human error and irresponsibility

That has become the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,

Floating out there in some remote part of the map.

she’s sculpted the mess within her currents,

disrupting her own flow –

But still, somehow – holding space

For fish and shorebirds far from home.

They survive despite us.


She creates despite us.

And we comb the beaches for more.

Bits of broken glass

That she has made safe and soft,

frosted and smooth.

Pretty cobalts and sepia,

Sun-drenched lilac and emerald.
Reminders of what we have lost, or thrown away.

Of what we still stand to lose

If we continue to take

Without considering all that she has to give.


It starts with honor,

Thanks for every resource and treasure.

From those delicious little shellfish

To the bones of massive creatures

That feed us, teach us, inspire us.

It starts with respect,

For her power and her skill.

Of which we understand so little.

It starts with us,

It starts with one piece,
one salvaged and cherished bit

Churned through, sanded down or carved up

Turned into more than it was.

Jewel-bright and beloved,

shining in the sun.

This original work was commissioned by DATMA as part of our annual poetry series that launches each exhibition season. Previous works were inspired by Shelter (2023), Shelter (2022), Wind, Light, and Water. To connect with Sarah Jane Mulvey, you may visit her website here or attend many of her spoken words events. Sarah Jane Mulvey is a poet, writer and non-profit professional. She is a co-founder of Anomaly Poetry, and host of their open mic nights at the Co-Creative Center in Downtown New Bedford. She also performs her poetry with The Collective NB. Sarah is currently serving as the City of New Bedford’s Poet Laureate. Social media: @sarahmulvz and @anomaly.poetry.
Many of you who have been following DATMA since the beginning knew our Co-Founder, Roger Mandle. It was not known to many that he dedicated a portion of his time to creative writing. Allow us to share the link to his memorial website that his family has created which shares some of his poems. https://www.rogermandle.com/poetry