Writers, artists celebrate island life   

Cover art by Ellen Vaughan, Monhegan . PHOTO COURTESY OF ELLEN VAUGHAN

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


By Cindy Thomas, Islesford

Swan’s Island Memories 

(selected stanzas)  

Fast asleep   

Trucks beep   

Harbor chatter   

Boatyard clatter   

Coffee in a mug   

Workout on a rug   

Morning run   

The day’s begun   

Lighthouse walks   

Hiking trails talk  

Porpoise pods   

Fishing rods   

Casting and waiting   

Seals sunbathing  

First fish feast?   

No. Catch and release  

Susan Heebner Cushman,  

   Swan’s Island  



My Cushion 

(an excerpt)  

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 ,  



By Cynthia Jensen, Monhegan Island 


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  



By Michael Delchamp, Isle au Haut 

Walking the Fence 

(an excerpt)  

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 , 

   Swan’s Island  


Coming Apart 

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.   

Eric Best,   



Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

Latest posts by Dick Broom (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.