Monday, February 13, 2006

Ruxton Island

I draw the first black coffee
of the early morning and
chance the spongey plywood deck
to pad barefoot in jeans
and a rough big sweater
still clammy and cool from
an October night's pervasive dew
to the weathered gray rail
to watch the loose slow procession
of pleasure yachts slide
through the inner passage
sails furled tight
and battened
against their booms
propelled only by muttering
season-end diesels
to winter moorings
further south in
Vancouver, Victoria
Seattle, Tacoma
Portland, San Diego.

Behind them, through
thinning morning fog
I can see Vancouver Island
dark treed hills climbing
in shallow irregular diagonals
until the land peaks out
and grayling clouds
parallel the land's lines
to rise into the unseen
high as exaltation.

Soon enough
I know
winter rains
will obscure that
satisfying view
and my eye falls
thirty feet below me
to the bases of the stilts
that brace this small house
on the steep rocky pitch
where waves lap
at the lowest driftwood logs
lining the banks
of the narrow inlet
some of which, later today
I will choose, buck and split
to warm me in coming days.

There are perhaps four people
left now on Ruxton Island
none who know me
and none of us seeks out
company, content instead
to watch each other pass
as silent shapes
among distant trees
if any sees another at all
living lives of
off-season solitaries
I kept company
only by the necessary chores
of daily existence
and wavering voices
dopplering thinly
through AM static
on a battery radio
and at night
the candles that light
my rough lined pages.

In daytime I roam
half aware of
an always-present
fear of consequences
of a single slippery misstep
on rocky walkways
knowing no-one
might find me for days
or weeks
am unnaturally aware
of potential consequences
of every small action
yet revel
in the strange freedom
the forest quiet
of tall Douglas firs
sloping up behind me
take comfort in
the idea that I am


in that distant regatta
on other islands
on the unreachable
behind me.


Anonymous said...

Vancouver Island has to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. I can just see you listening to that crackly radio...

coyote said...

Yes; that deck view of hills and clouds piling on top of each other is something I've never forgotten. And crackly late-night AM radio is probably a subject for another piece in its own right....

Anonymous said...

I have roamed my way up to Ruxton through all the seasons. Always drawn back to her, she has become one of my favorite destinations. I have walked her paths and felt at home, and have fantasized frequently of living there. I have anchored out peacefully, bobbing up and down in Whaleboat and Herring bay. I have even tried to find property there. No luck, I am however not that financially well off........but she still calls, and I still visit.
I have never seen this site before, and I just stumbled apon this writing. Fate??

coyote said...

Perhaps... I no longer have access, myself -- someone offered the owner far too much money to turn down -- but it was a happy time in my life. I still feel drawn there, too, and still dream. Say hello to it for me the next time you visit.