We Are the Island
by Nina Johnson

We dreamed of living on an island,
swore we’d survive on sweet chunks
of coconut, banana – even ants –
swim in the sea every morning,
afternoons of hammock naps,
evenings from here to eternity.
We’d get away from it all,
running with nearly empty bags.

We arrived hungry, hammered
on coconuts – drank them dry –
climbed trees for bananas:
all green, green, green.
We searched for shelter, a shelf
to collect our new coconut bowls,
nail driftwood carved Mr. and Mrs.

We skipped our swim, our nap,
our movie scenes in the sand,
to build and weave with sticks
and reeds. We discussed the physics
of palm frond hammocks, the dynamics
of tree branch fishing spears. We debated
flavor profiles: fish wrapped in leaves
on hot coals or fish pinned to planks
over high flames?

We missed the sunset, huddled
close to the fire, and, by the rhythm
of the waves, confessed the coconuts
were not as sweet as we’d imagined.
We spoke of home, a distant place:
all green, green, green.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author with her husband Ron Johnson overlooking Lake Michigan from a Wisconsin shore (August 2002).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: At times in my marriage, we’ve talked about “getting away from it all” and living remotely. But we are industrious people, and I tell my husband we would unwittingly make work out of even paradise! Sometimes newlyweds have the romantic notion that love will make life a vacation, that being together will erase the pressure of having “things.” Everyday life sometimes causes us to neglect the romance, the sunsets, but it’s still there — and it still has the power to keep us looking toward the future “green” like newlyweds.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nina Johnson is a writer based in the Indianapolis, Indiana, area. Her poetry has appeared in The Lighter, Silver Birch Press, and the Lament for the Dead online poetry project. She was most recently an Education Reporter for a local publication. Her husband and three daughters are patiently waiting for her to finish editing her first novel.