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  • So many days come and go
    Each farewell another deposit in days gone by
    The old days accumulate like the slow drift of needles
    To the floor of the dark and fragrant green of the spruce forest
    The topmost layer still sharp and distinct
    And buried below the edges blur and merge
    Until finally they are just gone
    Nothing but the spongy layer of memory
    Giving a little as I pass over it
    Just the softness of time past underfoot

    That year, it was March and I was wild
    To head to the island
    March and a warm sou-easter
    Had stripped away the grimy snow
    March and the first foolish robin arrived
    Cocked an eye at the mud slicked
    Over the still frozen ground
    March and my bouys hung
    All bright in blue and white bundles
    Over the boxes overflowing
    with a winter’s worth
    Of empties
    Waiting for a trip to the Redemption Center
    It was March and time
    So I loaded my skiff in hopes of a lull
    and then haunted the wharf as the wind turned
    and shifted round
    Harsh and clear and stiff out of the nor-west

    Old Morris knit bait bags and trap heads out of bright balls of stiff poly twine
    His mesh needle flashed in
    His hard, worn hands
    He kept watch there by the one grimed window facing south out of the harbor
    South to the open sea
    Alert as any officer on deck
    Sharp eye on the weather and the clock and the unwritten schedule of boats and captains
    Hip boots rolled down
    Cap tipped shore leave jaunty
    Maybe the wind’ll drop before sunset today
    I ventured
    He nodded, he knew it wasn’t for him to say
    He knew it was mine to choose
    Well, I said, zipping my jacket and turning to walk
    down the long cavern of the bait sheds
    down the planks slick with fish oil
    He’d seen other men wild to make it back to the islands
    We’ll see you then Benjy, he said

    Out of the harbor I felt the
    Wind stiff behind me
    Felt the sun red gold in my hair
    And streaked out across the crests
    I heard the gulls cry
    As they slanted past riding waves of air above me
    I breathed keen clean arctic air
    And found the rhythm of the seas
    Gunned her here then eased back
    So I wouldn’t catch a crest
    and get tumbled side to
    so I wouldn’t bury her bow in the deep trough of the following sea
    I found the rhythm until I got the slope of the sea and flew
    Alone across the empty wild face of the sea
    Flew alone with the sea
    all wound up in the long gleams of the setting sun
    at times the prop came clean out of the water and the engine raced
    and I screamed along with it screamed with the joy to be so wild
    to be so free
    Yeah to let go the land
    To run for the frozen silence of the island
    Alone

    Two weeks later when the wind finally dropped out
    I skimmed over the flat calm water of the bay
    Heade for the harbor for bread, and mail and a Snickers bar
    Old Morris looked up when I stumped in over the worn wharf planks
    Well, he said
    Guess you made it after all
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