Approaching misty Isle au Haut.
Approaching misty Isle au Haut.

Vivid were her dreams, Kelley returning to her
Island home, decisions made gradually, fog
Creeping over island passages, gauze-like mist
Descending, obscuring sun and water, spruce
Tree-clad rocks protruding from sea-dark waves,
Kelly felt internal tidal tugs, ancestral, visceral,
Homecoming, islands of her childhood.

Intuitively, Kelley felt she was not an “island
Girl,” more of a deep-woods, north of Bangor
Type, rustic and educated, hiking rocky ridges,
Canoeing fast-moving streams, L.L. Bean and
Timmies, four-wheel-drive Jeep Cherokee,
Freedom to roam Maine wilds, unfettered and
Released, she resisted confinement to an island.

Yet, images on old postcards belonging to her
Grandmother, Burnt Island Thoroughfare, spare
And tree-barren, ebbed and flowed in Kelley’s
Mind, rising and retreating, pushing her towards
Stonington, to ferry services, foggy channeled
Islands and to mist-shrouded mountained
Heights, her island-family home.

Familiar smells and motion, salt, diesel, pun-
Gent bottom muck mixed with slimy sea-grass,
Brought childhood recollections to Kelley as
The ferry passed Green Island, the captain
Steered through maze of painted lobster trap
Floats, striped and current pushed, bobbing
And disappearing in cresting morning chop.

Birch Point, Burnt Island Thoroughfare, Isle au Haut, Maine.
Birch Point, Burnt Island Thoroughfare, Isle au Haut, ME, c. 1908, Wikipedia photo.

Kelly took quick glances of postcard images
Kept on her phone, reckoning with conflicting
Feelings as they pushed to open water and to
First emerging peaks of Isle au Haut, docks and
Spruce hills that were home until Grade 8, when
Her parents sent her to an off-island boarding
School, traumatic childhood separation.

First close pass by rocky spruce-covered islets,
Kelley’s heart awakened, reconnection with
Wooden lobster boats, challenge of replacing
Marine plywood, scent of epoxy topside paint,
Through-bolting brass fittings with caulked
Backing plates, she helped with repairs and
Refitting, muscular island girl.

After two days on Isle au Haut, Kelley was ready
To depart, ferry droning at the dock, prepared
To leave island waters after wooden lobster
Boat, Hanna Lee, tied up at her spot. Listed for
Sale, she needed a new owner and repairs. Kelley
Stepped from ferry and announced, “I’m going
To buy that lobster boat.”

That was five years ago, Hanna Lee with Kelley
At the wheel, this Maine ocean-island woman
Works her lobster traps along Kimball Island
Shores to Middle and Black ledges. If you see
Bright blue and green-striped trap buoys,
They belong to Kelley, one of few women who
Hails her own lobster boat and license.

Social profiles