Nocturne: Great Spruce Head Island

Posted Dec. 19, 2010, at 7:20 p.m.

The wind wakes me. It howls through the house,
bangs windows against their hooks. When
I get up to close them, I hear an owl hooting softly.
Somewhere in the dark it is hunting, something
is being killed and eaten. I think of ghosts,
of the ghost on another island that once rattled
my doorknob, of the ghost on nearby Bear Island
that a friend swears she saw sweep over her bed.
Do spirits, like vultures, not like to travel over water?
Do they pile up on islands like so many mussel shells?
I need to use the bathroom, but hesitate to open

my door to hallway’s shadows and the big room below
guarded by dragons — what might I see moving there?
But the body’s needs win out over childish fears.
My sleeping bag, garish purple in headlamp’s circle
of light, reassures me upon my return.
I look out the window toward the night-cloaked
forest and recognize the Big Dipper above the tree tops,
perfectly framed, its side stars clearly pointing toward
Polaris. Aligned north, I know where I am.
I fall back asleep with that simple comfort,
though winged shadows fill my dreams.

Kristen Lindquist lives in Camden and works
with the Coastal Mountains Land Trust.