With tribute to Dorothea Lasky
Katharine Tillman, you are my best friend.
If I am Anne Shirley, you are Diana Barry.
You have saved me from the orphan asylum.
You have been the hand that smooths the waters
over the rocky coast of my island. In the fog,
you are my lantern. We have braved many shy springs
together, underdressed and unprepared for such a wind
to rock our fragile boats off course, but I have loaned you arm
socks, and we have made it through the night.
My love is no accident. You wear a black dress
and I love you, you wear a tweed jacket and I
love you. I love you even when you lose your valuables
and we have to go back to the restaurant/museum/
laboratory and spend all night looking for them.
We both know my fear of sea creatures, but
I would allow myself to be devoured by a whale
if it meant God would spare your life. My love
is no accident, and neither is the fact
that our lives have converged so close to the West
Side Highway, the Hudson, New Jersey, America.
To be alone in a place so big there are songs about it
would be lonely, but I have never been without you.
And even without you, I am with you,
for we share the thinking space of sisters.
We share a love of the divine mysteries of life.
We want to understand all that we do not, and
in moments of clarity we both realize
how impossible our search is, how small
our place in the universe. At least my small place
is next door to your small place. For even if your
small place is in Portland and mine is in Brooklyn,
or Alamogordo, or my mind, if I walked far enough
for long enough, I would reach you. I want to buy
stars and name them after you. Stars we can visit,
like islands. I want to be your height so that we see
the same vistas. Katharine, you are my heart,
my ears, my eyes, the sun in Greenland. You
are a reason for waking even in the deepest dark.