The low profile of the mainland
Across Vineyard Sound
Swims into focus.
The air loses its balm.
Eating breakfast,
Vacationers pay attention
To news from the nation.
In days that follow,
Acts once open-ended—
A fisherman’s cast and reel,
The unfurling of a sail—
Contract to numbers:
Three more dives
From the rock jetty,
Another tack
Past the channel marker,
Once more to the herring creek.
Marking each moment,
I have learned
How to leave.
No more the abrupt arrival
At the ferry’s iron railing,
The gull’s veer
From the dock,
The cold grip of the current
Bearing me off-island.
Now I have learned
How to stay.
Still I can’t deny
The season’s change.
The tides reverse, pulling me
Toward a winter life.