The island I called Hag Island in this poem isn’t, after the ten or so years since I wrote “Local History,” an island anymore, not even at full high tide. What was island has become something more like a hump in the marsh. The salt brook that runs through has shallowed out and shifted. Everyday erosion and hurricane winds will do that. The mixed grasses, beach rose, heathers, and reeds that sometime hold when gravelly sands and mud shift around them, came loose.
Gradually and all at once, the beach swept inland and the surf dredged a new course for the brook. Since the she of the poem staked her claim on the place, the marsh has never stopped shifting. Now the hump, its spindly pear tree and drowned stump, is fitted up with an osprey platform and a Department of Environmental Protection cordon. There’s a nesting pair and fledglings in residence every spring so no one’s been out on the hump for years. We have to re-imagine a john boat’s warped planks, a stone door sill, an overgrown garden, and tall, almost luminescently pale stalks of mullein.