My Island

In the dim suburban townhouse in which I stay,

there’s a photograph of my extended family,

smiling together on my grandpa’s lawn on Kelley’s Island.


I visit there every summer, and that trimmed grass has never changed.

The mini-golf course hasn’t changed either,

or the restaurants downtown,

or sunset, which is as promising as sunrise (although the locals are too content to tell the difference). 


At eight years old, the street by the beach is where I learn to ride my bike.

At twelve years old, my grandpa’s living room is where the grownups raise their first glasses of iced wine and cheer, “this will be a night to remember!” And my cousin Max smiles at me,

because we both know that when they wake up hungover in the morning, they won’t remember anything.


Kelley’s Island is where water becomes sand, sand becomes grass, 

teenagers become adults, and adults become teenagers.


One night a week, the Caddyshack bar pavilion becomes a dance floor, and men and women

fifty to sixty years young

stand boldly in the orange light, 

drunkenly find their balance, 

and make high school Homecoming Dance seem tame by comparison.


Every crisis passes on Kelley’s Island, 

and every moment reflects in on itself, 

like drops of dew on blades of grass, and silence 


is just fine.


At a golden hour on a summer evening,


A six-year-old boy on the island stares forward, eyes and mouth wide open, as the sun sets in front of him for the first time, 

into the pink ripples of Lake Erie.


Somewhere on the island, a seventy-two-year-old man drops a white flower on his wife’s tombstone, 

from the garden that she planted.


Somewhere on the island, a fourteen-year-old girl has a flame in her chest and goosebumps in her arms 

as she leans back in the couch from her first kiss, 

and playful raindrops take their cue to poke the window.


Somewhere on the island, I’m seven years old, 

lost in the dark 

among the hot dancing legs of grownups. 

There’s distant laughter – 

and close thunder –

and I almost fall over,


but the sigh of the music is a shining comfort,

and amid the chaos, the lyrics sound like,




is going to be okay.



This poem is about: 
My family
My country
Our world


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