Bar Island Sandbar

I wanted to walk the length of the expanse before me, held back only by the water itself, so I pinched and pulled at the map on my iPhone in search of the nearest spot where brown met blue, uninhibited by docks or harbors. We parked our rental car and made our way down a road that dead-ended at our destination. We got more than we bargained for: a beach of stones and swooping swathes of water divided by a sandbar that reached outward to an indeterminable end. And thus, nearly by accident, we discovered Bar Island Sandbar while visiting Maine this summer. In hindsight we learned that place was as serendipitous as time: the sandbar, which connects Bar Island to the town of Bar Harbor, is exposed only for a few hours each day, during low tide. With one move in either direction we might have seen a different sight entirely. Coincidences, I’ve come to believe, are no small thing.

Bar Island Sandbar, Maine

You knelt as you marveled,
your finger sliding unscathed and unstopped across one’s surface.
We slid it in your pocket
to bear the weight of the whole.

From afar, they are one beach,
the thousands of stones.
The water has closed in and retreated until they lay
with their callouses softened,
edges curved.

Only my feet touched the water.
It lapped and pooled at my ankles,
where I thought I left it behind,

When we returned to the city,
I knew otherwise:
I let the soft tide close in to remind me
how to bend and listen and know,
how to give mercy.

We placed the stone on a window sill
overlooking an expanse of building bricks
and an alley, overgrown.
It has been patient with us—as if to say
it knows we did the best we could,
the sunlight the closest we could return it
to its natural habitat.


Oliver the dog at Bar Island Sandbar

His paws sink into the wet earth,
an act of submission.
He feels the soil beneath his feet,
knowing it not as ground or clay,
but as the unnamed constant
that bears his weight.
He does not consider the water it can contain
before its porous particles burst
nor how long it will withstand our abuses
before forsaking us.
He only knows the way it feels
before he pulls his paw away,
lets the impression remain;
he only knows its smell when he
puts his nose to the damp darkness.
He carries it as a part of him,
on his feet, his nose, his body,
discerning his place in the earth,
the earth’s place in him,
without asking or being told.