Shy Island

Poetry by Wendy Barnes ÷ Art by Grace Avery-Parkman


The crew sets up the grid of lights,

erects the stage among the bottles,

tires, megaliths.


Inhabitants curse our arrival


with a bout of rain

on a lonely beach

that doesn’t know its name.


We’ve exhausted our feelings,

but hope to find some here.


The island blinks off and on

like a beacon or a scapegoat,


and I feel more soluble

as I whisper to the camera:


It’s funny how I tried

to be your one thing.


Contestants sashay up

in twos,


applause hits the invisible roof,

and I descend the catwalk

just behind you


as sad wind traces me

with its fingers.


You have formed other alliances.


Inhabitants lurk

in the trees,

wait for night,


they sing a one-note song

and creep so close

that I can hear them texting.

Back home, it was called backstory

or how we thought we knew

each other,


but now I think you gave me bad intel

on the ways we are here,


static in a feedback loop,


stranded like frowns

on a plate.


Take a full cup, fill it more,

that’s me. Drink it.

Now we know what it is to be each other.


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