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  • We were 16 that summer
    the oldest in the group of kids all wild on the island
    There is a picture of us on the skipping stone beach at summer’s end
    ranged from tallest on down
    From 16 to 7 and three-quarters
    Brit’s arm careless across my shoulders, wide smile, strong nordic bones
    We boldly stare the camera down

    That was the summer we had our first sleep out on the east facing cove at the island’s end

    A long curve of beach all rounded cobbles and pea gravel and full of the waves’ murmur through the stones

    A night flung with stars and the sea spangled and flecked with pale phosphorescent fire

    Brit and I walked the beach alone and came to stand
    barefoot at the verge of land and sea
    our cold hands met
    and we turned breathless and wide-eyed to one another
    I remember the night aglow in her eyes and her breath so close
    And the kiss
    a kiss that lasts partly because neither of knows how to end a kiss or what really happens next and,
    as the first kiss, a kiss that has no end

    In the gulf of time between summers we wrote
    But the next July, she said it looked like Nico really liked me

    The invitation came years later,
    What’s a commitment ceremony, Carly asked
    She was 6 and wanted answers not explanations
    I decided honesty was easiest
    I don’t know, I said. I’ve never been to one before.
    But what is it, she insisted.
    It’s like a wedding, like when me and Claire got married.
    Good, said Carly, I didn’t get to go to that ‘casue I wasn’t borned

    Do I know Brit, she asked.
    Not yet, I said.

    Five of us scooted across the bay in my tiny boat
    6 inches of freeboard and square bowed.
    Overloaded and then some.
    I dodged the bigger waves but we were soaked with spray before we got in under the lighthouse
    Our dress clothes were safe, stowed in a plastic trash bags

    At the ferry terminal above the wharf
    We changed from shorts and wet t-shirts into other skins
    And met the others from that photo taken on the beach
    All grown, from children and make believe, to now

    Brit and her partner both beautiful in white
    Brit's dad, the father of the bride, so proud
    Her little brother Chris now the tallest of the group
    Brought the spirit of their mother alive
    And tears to every eye
    And the other bride’s family a solid, empty absence.

    We've never spoken of that night,
    I still see her from time to time,
    usually when I grubby and she
    arrives on the island in white completely carefreely stylish and gorgeous,
    On the island time and times slip
    from then to now
    from now to then
    and now and then.
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