A Memory of Islands

The indigo of muscle, cherry stone

Whites of oysters with their indigo coins

Greens of full-bladdered and sun-dried seaweed, 

Browns of sand, disintegrated small shells 

And the sea-swell wearing down of granite...

Follow the wrack line around the island

To a small stream, cross onto the mudflats

Respiring with small creatures, step lightly

Into the tall grasses sharp as razors 

Push through to a rise cool beaming with trees

Climb under the shade, see an old farmhouse

In the clutches of expansive verdure 

Pulling it down, uprooting all memory

Only names remain to locate this time

Cockoene, Ram (now Shea), Chimmons, Goose, Grass

Calf Pasture, Tree Hammock, Copps and Crow,

Sheffield.  Little Tavern.

Pirates, Prohibition, booty and booze

If you find treasure, it’s mine, Dad would say.

Crumbling stairs, collapsed floors, uncovered wells 

Between curiosity and ruin

The tiled floors of the old lighthouse

The stone foundation of an old tavern

Once grazing lands, these islands, once homesteads,

Once a vast power plant on Manresa,

Talk once of a nuclear power plant

Ghosts left to be pulled down by time and trees

And in a moment, gone:  The family left

Curtains fluttering in windows left open

A teacup in the sink and breadcrumbs on the board

And the family went ashore, went shopping

Went home to dry land.  No cattle no corn

Somebody’s neighbor now, a need to talk

On the beach, drinking cold beer from Colemans

Lukewarm coffee in the Thermos will do

For the ride home to warm baths and cool sheets

The big coffee pot ready for morning

We set foot on the island to explore

Among the rocks:  If you find a treasure

It’s mine

                   I set out hoping for a gift,

Alone among the rocks, climbing, searching

A sunny day.  A picnic.  A memory.

Sanctuaries now for seabirds and marine life,

These islands keep you.

Come ashore.


For Dad.

George O. Carlson, Harry Denney, Tommy Edwards, Long Island Sound, 1970s
Dad, Mr. D, and Mr. Edwards,
somewhere in the 70s.

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