Who would imagine a once-was baby just woke alone beneath skylight see-through tarp and can smell
the low tide, can smell the magnetic pull from sun and moon, the ecotone marsh that runs
beside two gaudy houses and four pitched tents. Who would imagine that last night for dinner I ate
Good Ole’ Raisins and Peanuts and this morning one apple has been my meal. You see, for the weekend I am here
to think and write and grow older and older, to slip from the grasp that kept be tied baby
Bjorn style to your beating chest. I want you to know that I am thinking of you. Tying my shoelaces, brushing my teeth I changed
into clean clothes once I got up—all these are skills you’ve made in me. That will never change.
I remember the time we strapped Red Canoe onto White Car and drove Yellow lines for Eight
hours. A McDonalds stop, a Bruce Springsteen sing-a-long song and fourteen baby
dolls filled the back seat. A destination reached: Sheep Island, off Deer Isle, Maine and upon car-door release you can smell
the fresh coffee, tourist style. Red canoe flips onto Dad’s shoulders, he approached the slippery loading dock (I know now its slickness is blue-green algae that runs
along the black zone of a rocky intertidal) And a loaded canoe later, two strokes left and right, a faint splash is all you hear.
We reached island mid-morning and with excitement the seagulls are shouting, I’m shouting, I’m shouting that you just can’t hear
it but my baby dolls are shouting too. You tell me all that noise is making you mad and my body: my mind and my touch, my smell
and my taste all absorb the things you teach me. I remember Dad setting up the tent. He chose flat ground, high elevation a good view, changed
the site once or twice then set up for three family members. I was no baby
then but you still addressed me, “Baby put away that game and come eat.”
Yesterday I pitched my tarp, bowline, truckers hitch, a ground tarp, a sleeping pad, a liner, sleeping bag, and as I slept I heard the wolves run.
Back home you’re outside in the garden, you’re watching daffodils bloom and behind the house dad is running
the table saw, cutting boards (recently I finished the insulation on the new cabin) for those holes on the staircase wall. Meanwhile I’m changing
position, the sun warms my legs, dries my wet shoes and makes the air smell
clean like Maltby Lake, still, reflecting white pine and balsam fir, mother and baby
American Black Duck. Remember when you took me to Chewonki to visit? You brought me here
And I couldn’t imagine then I’d be old enough to leave you. Now we plan: after May ends we visit eight
colleges—I’ll go off to a new school with 1,000 new people and I’ll make my bed and eat
the food of someone else’s cooking. Upstairs the bass won’t bounce, the 6:15 tumble from bed won’t awaken you. You’ll hear
the tick tock of the clock beside my dresser and the new Zeus-walker will run
down the street. While I’m away you said you were going to get a new couch and paint the walls. I hope the change
looks nice. I hope that Ella dog is still visiting and I hope you’re still making sure her smell
doesn’t absorb in the house and scare away our cats. Say hello to the polo horses for me, the lawn mower driver that wakes me when I try to sleep in. Say hello to baby
Jacob and help him walk down the street for me. Last Wednesday I watched a woman hold her baby
the way Dad did in a picture we have. I watched another woman tell her 8-
year-old son why she wouldn’t buy him an ice cream, he pouted and ignored her, but I could hear
the love in her voice, the love in his shouts. It seems like the last 16 years strapped the back of a running
Cheetah and became the fastest animal alive. Regardless, everything important originated with you. I will change
but remain the product of two combined. When I began writing the tide was low. My toes sank among the mud and now the water’s coming in, if you were here you’d love it: the taste and the feel and the sound and the smell.
– Laura Coyne, New Haven, CT (Wilbur Cross High School)
*Note: Laura wrote this poem while on her two day and two night Solo on Friday, April 20 to Sunday, April 22.