The Island

On a warm Wednesday I went to Ellis Island alone. That morning I poked the yoke of my husband’s sunny-side-up, and burnt his toasts on purpose. On hands, on knees, on chafed discontent, I crawled all the way to Miss Liberty’s crowned head. I’ve often had dreams like this. Blue veins of oceans pumping salt-water into my wounded canoe. I shall never make it to her alive, I’ve traded my paddles for the low simmering kettle expectant of boiling so I could thaw this damn chicken for the dinner party where I shall be red-lipped, high-heeled and properly elusive. But I shall never make it to her alive, not this moment when the jungle-red sun has been hushed, and my soapy hands are clasping the soiled collar of an ill-fitted and tedious shirt with such stubbornness. I scrub it into moonrise whiteness, so white that I could almost start over in my weightless sleep. My dream takes me to the island – the stone – lipped woman married to the hands of the mason who sculpted her into perfect stillness. I touch her bare petrous toes, they are cold as my own. She is close – so close that the burning torch in her hand could almost be mine.

 

Originally published in Sweet Tree Review, Winter 2016. 

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