Monday, June 6, 2016


Several years ago, my sister and her kids were visiting grandma's house for our annual July rituals. Typically, we go into the city to visit museums or the zoo, but for this one day, my sister and I decided to take my nieces to the Indiana dunes and an experience with Lake Michigan that they hadn't ever seen except an a frame for sky scrapers. Myyounger niece was about 8 at the time. When we set up our spot on the hot, sandy shore of the lake, she exclaimed, 'you didn't tell me that there was an ocean here!'

It was a wavy day at the beach. And the three of us, my sister, older niece, and I, had a hard time keeping up with the little one. She just didn't tire of the waves. When finally I was able to get her out to make her eat, one eye of hers was on the water and she whispered, 'it's calling me.' Of course it did! Being a creature that is half Puerto Rican, one who actually lives on the island, and a strong Irish American spirit, she is drawn to the water. At the time, I wrote a poem for her:

Island Girl
I stuck a sandwich in her mouth.
She swam every wave
that crashed against
the shore of Lake Michigan
that sizzling summer day.
Gulping the turkey down,
happy to replace some of the
calorie lost in the movement
of water and sand,
she turned an eye to
the continued maelstrom
that was the day’s condition.
‘the waves are calling me,’
she whispered to it,
not me who was insistent
that she stay 15 more minutes
on the towel to settle the
slug of food and drink,
but the lake entranced her
and called her home-
island girl that she is.
Standing, her little suit stretched
tight across an Irish derriere,
her Puerto Rican stamp,
sun darkened, nut-brown.
‘the waves are calling me.’
Fearless, not afraid to call back
the tide whether in the darkness
of the North Atlantic or
crystal blue light of the Caribbean,
she walked into it with conviction,
her sweater, her skin, marked
with both tribes that let
it be perfectly known that
the sea, the water, could not drag her under.
‘The waves are calling me,’
and she pulled me up from the sands
to ride across and through any danger
she sensed. Island girl:
as happy on land as in the sea.
Selke, her seal coat water resistant
and protective of current and drag.
The waves call her, home.
Well, here she's at it again, this time with a mermaid's tale. While I was in Puerto Rico for my nephew's graduation, she talked to me about this tale. Sadly, it arrived after I had left, so I have to be content with the moment that an IPhone could send to me.
She is, indeed, an island girl.

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