My great-grandfather’s grandfather bought the island and built
the house. Before that, the island was nobody’s. There was evidence
of Indians, great piles of clamshells near the southern tip,
but by then the Wabanaki had fled to Canada to be among the
Jesuits. I don’t know whom he bought the island from.
The winter was so cold that year that the timber and stone
for the house were dragged right over the bay by horses. The ice
was six feet thick. I’ve never even seen a skin of ice over anything
but the tide pools.
I have a good life on the mainland. I have a family. I swim
at the city beach each morning while everyone else in my house
is still asleep. Some days I rinse off after. Other days I watch the
shifting track of powdered salt along my arms. Cooled blood
races through my veins.