Low tide, an island rises. Initially, I named it Crab Island. I strapped a milk crate to a paddleboard and tucked a crab net underneath it and pulled myself across the channel. But there aren’t any crabs there. I caught two: a toddler followed by an infant. The toddler had already lost a claw. I dropped her back and wished that she lives long enough to have two fists and that she never need to fight again.
Pocked, meteor-struck, and uninhabited by humans except for me, once an afternoon I paddle out there to explore the oblong, harmless jellies I firmly introduced to my boyfriend (population: briefly, 2) as “phylum cnidaria.” At the east end, the point at which the island juts, a chorus of barnacles huddle around the curve like a bunch of soloists around a microphone. A pair of egrets park there and watch me cast out the net and tiptoe around the craters–one of the reasons I’ve renamed it Moon Island. It waxes and wanes with the tide. When it is new, it it completely invisible. When it is full, a rusty and abandoned crab trap emerges just off its coast like a satellite that broadcasts static.
On one of its shores, the moment your toes get close to the water, a hundred tiny fish skip the surface in fear. Humans, mythological sky creatures. They don’t understand our language, our hope, the reason one of us might paddle out to an island that doesn’t really exist, what she might be searching for there in the shallow end. Tomorrow, or maybe the next day, or some day when I paddle out there, I will step close to the white-wicked inlet inside an inlet and those fish won’t jump. It’ll be daytime low tide, and they will have become accustomed to me not hurting them, but just making the water briefly dim with my long shape. I’ll stop paddling out there the day after they stop leaping at the sight of me. No longer alien, neither of us needs each other to remember home.
posted by holly.