The vessel brims

Hello dear readers, August has arrived. This letter comes just as we finish catching up and our familiar houseguest starts to settle in. August, for all its tracked-in sand and berry-stained fingers, really is a gracious guest. I’m writing this (a bit late!) at home after my last stint of fieldwork on North Manitou Island for the season.

Here’s a fact: I have spent the better part of the last three months as the solitary human among birds. I’ve talked to them at least as much as I have with fellow humans; I’ve listened to their voices and strained at the tantalizing but elusive edge of comprehension. It has been a strange experience — strange in the best possible sense — but one that will take some time and work to explore in writing. Do I have time or energy to delve into it right now? No, I do not; and you may not either. That’s OK!

What I will say is exactly what I’ve said before: my time on the island has been a veritable flood of images — fascinating, overwhelming, puzzling, pretty, ugly, contradictory, etc — and I am for the season sated. I suppose when the vessel brims one had better stop pouring. The perceptions I have to share seem in a way novel: perceptions of the mainland from offshore, of our culture at this juncture from occasional emissaries aboard speedboats. Perceptions of animals and plants who inhabit and pass through the island, of their living and dying there, of their plumages and blooms and structures. Of my own body near the far end of civilization’s tether. But these perceptions seem also in a way familiar; perhaps some of us are accustomed to the view from just outside, from offshore looking back, and we find ourselves perfectly at home on an island.

Birch leaves and twigs fill the frame, most out of focus but a few crisp. The dappled light and lively angles of the leaves suggest a breeze that moves through the small tree.

I’ll be sharing some of the aforementioned perceptions soon in the second issue of Drift Body, which is coming together now and will ship around August 18. I’m excited to share more strange poems with you all!

For now, August is here for its annual visit and all vessels brim. May the mellow end-of-summer endeavors come: a swim a day, domestic work, vegetables on the grill, a few friends passing through the garden. Move slowly as not to spill too much.