The name of the island was Island and the name of the Friday
was Good. Sunflower roots lay smoked on a bed of moss
over sea-flattened stones and sealed in a cedar box, like a tiny
coffin on the china: the unpent
smoke outpuffed its alderwood burn on our cheeks.
The constituents of a thirty-year marriage
lay before us, like a mis-en-place:
ingredients of pleasure, local
and strange. We assembled them as if we had never
used them before, like the raw
deer hearts strewn with wildflowers, pearls
of herring roe scooped up on branches of hemlock .
Stinging nettles, sweet, long-roasted: where,
where now was their sting?
To name an island for the very idea
of an island: its insularity, its
All pent in by what it is not --
the restless aqueous -- so its name
insisted it was what it was.
The name of the marriage had come to be Angry Teen .
The name of the marriage had come to be Did We Fuck Up.
Skunk cabbage burst all over from the roadside murk,
more xanthic than sunflowers or than noon sun, more
skunk-scent-insistent than skunks. The decedents
of the earliest settlers, said the brochure's typo, still live on the island today.
So the dead walk here, all
pent in by what they are not.
The island was Island Island. The god
was I AM WHO I AM. As
in the beginning He made each thing, it seemed
to startle Him to realize
it was good, as if good
were something else He gave birth by merely
having it in His mind.
Glimmers of saltwater poured off the clay and marl
and dry was born. Island lay isolate, not-wet
in the wet. Is land was born.
We smoothed and refrosted the marred
crust of what we'd made, and
the idea of marriage was reborn, the idea
of marring unborn.
The chef came to our room to fix the unstoppable furnace.
He smelled of sorrel and roasted oysters and sage as he knelt
to fiddle with the gas-blast. Dolce far niente painted on the wall.
The sweet accomplishment of nothing.
Only when God began to do, after untimeable stasis,
did He find out how good
His pouring-apart of opposites -- sunrip and earth, up-
tick of skunk cabbage and its stench, and
sunflower root and the dark box it huddled in -- might be.
Let us divide decedents
from descendent, motherfather from son. Somewhere, even here, a furious
angel struggles in air to aim his chalice
exactly to catch each blood-spurt off the cross.
It must be saved. In three days the decedent will live
again and want back His blood. The island's name
in some no-longer translatable tongue was said
were all that an island could be. The name of the marriage, as if
we made it, by calling it, so
was said -- behold, it startles us still -- to be good.