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A Girl Who Fell in Love with An Island
Anne Whitehouse


I thought I saw the ghost of myself

as I was at the age of 27, 

standing up on a bicycle, peddling uphill,

long hair streaming behind her.

She smiled as she passed me in the twilight

and wished me a good evening.


On the back of her bike was

a milk crate for hauling things, 

the same as I once had.

She was wearing flip-flops

and a loose wrapped skirt.

I had seen her on the beach, 

making salutations to the setting sun 

over the sea in a reflected fire

of blazing gold and rose embers.

I hadn’t wanted to interrupt her,

or show her to herself thirty years older.


I was a girl who fell in love with an island.

Each time I've left here, 

something of that quiet, introspective girl      

has lingered behind and never left.

On visits when I come across her

she has never gotten any older.                     


In August I return in search of her,

wearing my oldest clothes, ones she wore,

worn and faded, softened by use.

Once again she and I are one

when I swim in the cove’s cold waters,

gazing up at the sea and sky 

or diving underwater to watch 

the dark kelps waving over the rocks.


© by Anne Whitehouse.
Used with the author’s permission.

Anne Whitehouse has worked as a resident artist and teacher with Teachers & Writers Collaborative and New York State Poets-in-the-Schools, and as an instructor in several colleges. In addition to writing poetry, fiction, and journalism, she has had a distinguished career in development work for non-profit agencies. A Magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College, where she was awarded the Joan Grey Untermeyer Poetry Prize and the Leverett House Poetry Prize, Anne received an M.F.A. from Columbia University's School of the Arts. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter. Learn more about Anne at

Post New Comment:
Very touching and captures the mood very well.
Posted 08/06/2013 11:38 AM
my island is imaginary but I visit it often for consolation; how lovely to have 'lived' the real thing and how lovely is this poem ~ thanks for sharing. Judy
Posted 08/06/2013 11:36 AM
Ginny C.:
I love the way this poem touches on the many selves we carry with us, and the selves that attach themselves to certain places. It's a very lovely poem, worth reading more than once.
Posted 08/06/2013 10:58 AM
This poem touched me at a very deep level also. I also have an Island in my life..and some places that become personal islands. Words do not come easy to express the personal effect of this poem.
Posted 08/06/2013 09:27 AM
I concur with everyone. This poem has such wonderful imagery, and it really touches me at a very deep level. Magic!
Posted 08/06/2013 09:00 AM
Wonderful mood poem. You not only captured the mood, the time, the place, you captured me, took me along. For a time, I was that girl in that dream of a place.
Posted 08/06/2013 06:54 AM
Beautiful imagery -- the girl, the sun, the clothes. Really love this poem, maybe because I, too, love an island....or maybe several.
Posted 08/06/2013 06:20 AM

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