I enjoyed writing about a beloved place, Jekyll Island, in a previous blog post (December, 2019). Writing about the island brought back sweet memories of the past that blended with more recent memories of our annual visits each spring.
The story seemed complete, but then a friend mentioned the possibility of writing The Island as a poem. A rather short poem.
As I disassembled the story and put it back together in a different form, I learned so much. How to ruthlessly delete words, phrases and paragraphs that I didn’t think the story could live without. How to minimize and make each word count. How to keep the feelings evoked by the story intact while nearly everything else changed. At least, I hope I learned all of that.
1970, reporting to naval duty.
Young, newlywed, possessions packed into a car.
Midwesterners, hadn’t even known Georgia had a coast.
Paint-peeling shacks. Tall, proud pines,
Then winding through marshes to the island.
Dunes, spiraling sea grass, long, wide, white beach.
Immense space, sky huge and blue, sunlit water.
Long-legged birds playing with crashing waves.
Salty spray. Wind roaring. Hearts filling.
Didn’t know we would
walk this beach for hours, talking, planning, growing;
drive off island late one night, return as a family of three;
stroll in soft twilight, the ocean lulling a baby to sleep.
Didn’t know we would someday yearn for this place,
returning in reality and daydreams, perhaps pulled by tides.
Knew we needed this island, and a cheap, furnished house.
Drive on over, they said at the rental office. Give it a look.
Keys? They laughed. Doors aren’t locked on the island.
Tiptoed in, glanced around, signed on the indicated line.
The island, the jewel, was ours, forever, our home.