Poet’s Corner: Report from the Island


One great eye an island. On the horizon today

two silver lines divide the Atlantic from the sky

as though there were another island, a field of ice

inaccessible, moving forward and away, barrier

dreams that rise at the banded limit of the view.

I have dreamt this sea, its grays and greens,

and how the silver multiplies beneath clouds,

sequins on a blue gown the singer wore,

sand the stage on which she walked, even

strands of dark seaweed, hair ribbons tossed away.

How well this element suits us, human touches

left — a sagging volleyball net, edges of court

marked with yellow cord; red horse shoes, stakes rusting;

a child’s plastic chair, a larger wooden one;

a compound of sand castles where a retriever plays.

Beyond dunes and sea grasses, a lone wind turbine,

its white blades post-modern, seeming out of place

like the blue silo nearby (what on earth could be

grown this near the beach?), reminders of the made.

September weather we have been waiting for—

I took that line from Cape and Islands NPR, sure

it cannot be improved upon, restrained Vineyard

speech in which prevailing winds are not always

in favor of those who watch that wind, know

salt water tides have been both curse and cure.

But sand and light and wind and water have been

for me a kind of tonic, later afternoon light

drifting across a corner of the mind, salt air on skin.

I have traveled half a continent to learn how

arriving on an island might be like arriving home.

Jane Hoogestraat was in residence at the Martha’s Vineyard Writers’ Residency (Edgartown) in September of 2012.