MOUNT DESERT — Beautiful essays, poems, photographs and paintings by residents of Maine’s unbridged islands fill the pages of the 15th annual edition of “The Island Reader,” which is published by the Maine Seacoast Mission.
The theme of this year’s edition is “Sustaining Islands.”
“The creative works submitted by this year’s artists highlight how islanders take care of the islands we call home,” the editors write in the introduction.
“Picking up beach trash, helping neighbors, protecting our waters for future generations to fish and harvest, creating art that showcases our experiences, islanders know that sustaining islands is a labor of love and key to living off the Maine coast.”
“The Island Reader” is available free of charge; however, if you make a donation when ordering, your gift will directly help pay for publishing and printing costs. Order your copy at www.seacoastmission.org/2021/05/31.
Swan’s Island Memories
Coffee in a mug
Workout on a rug
The day’s begun
Hiking trails talk
Casting and waiting
First fish feast?
No. Catch and release
–Susan Heebner Cushman,
Everyone has one, at least everyone should—memories of a special place which can become a soft cushion when life gets overpowering, sadness grips our lives, or when we just need to escape. It waits patiently and quietly, but never fails to appear when needed. It slips into our mind—no knocking, no loud greeting—it is just there. My cushion is Matinicus Isle.”
–Margret VanOrden Maloney ,
Magnificently decrepit, it does not,
remarkably, fall down, though
it tilts in its patch of overgrown weeds,
this house I pass often along
the only paved road on this island.
Windows blown out or boarded,
a shutter hanging one-hinged aslant,
clumps of moss finding their opportunity
in the crease between the gable
and the rest of the roof, sickly green
gauze wadded to stanch further
deterioration. The door missing,
the dark entry could be a mouth
crying out. I can only imagine
how ravaged must be its interior,
the ruin critters have wrought,
the fungus covering walls and floors
that once formed spruce living quarters.
Behind it loom trunks and needles
of evergreens that threaten to engulf it,
take it out of its misery. The natural
impulse is to want to fix it, set it to rights,
or tear the eyesore down, but the owner
has just been, over 30 years, letting it
go slowly to pieces, allowing entropy
to do its work, letting this gray-shingled
shambles stand as a rebuke to those
who have trouble coming to terms
with the way of things.
–Susan Deborah King ,
Great Cranberry Island
Walking the Fence
Hierarchy of the hill. We lived about two thirds of the way up, across from the mill manager. The mill owner lived in a big house at the top of the hill. We were one house down from the local dentist and one above a realtor, who was across from the theater owner – we were middle hill, middle class. My father owned a store. The mill manager’s family raised horses.
The mill manager was a good man, but his wife was a holy terror who didn’t much care for children. We were forbidden to go on their property or near the horses unless invited.
–Ann Marie Maguire ,
I did not know what a life
I had as we took it apart
piece by piece
and doled it out by random chance,
a few trades, furniture for silverware,
passion for pragmatism
mysterious associations more
felt than known
with little said about
the whole that was passing away
through our fingers
until I came back down
that highway from town to city
and spent a sleepless night unsettled
trying to gauge
the measure of my discontent.
Then I knew that we were all three
letting go of something
so much larger than any of us
and trying to cling
thing by thing
to the ineffable depths of our youth
and the stages of becoming who we are
in which first or early steps taken there so long ago
could not be captured
by every riser of the stair
we now held apart among us,
small symbols of the place
we would always call home.