First Ferry Ride to Nantucket
By Karen Mandell

Sitting in the ferry to Nantucket, I’m doubly ensconced,
first inside my own skin, as usual, and then within the glassed-in hull.
I watch the water, like other pleasure seekers, placid, newspapers spread on
until the shore recedes and we’re facing down the open sea.
Spray slaps the glass, we’ve cut into the ocean’s skin.
Whitecaps curl and unfurl and disappear, small surface eruptions that break
the surface
then close over, healed here and then opening over there.
The sea churns and heaves, ceaseless, inconsolable
and yet this is a good day, no roiling agitation, no lashing out, no ten
foot waves.
All nicely contained.
I collect my papers, slip on my coat, take my place behind others
and as we disembark, I nod and and smile, a tiny flexing of lips,
at the person beside me, the one behind, each of us self-contained,
yet pulsing, taking in and giving out, rising, falling
right beneath the surface.


I recently completed a novel, Repairs and Alterations, about an elderly tailor and his revelations to his family about what really happened to him during World War II. Currently, I teach writing at Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts, after living in Minnesota for eight years. Here's a bit of culture shock: In Minnesota when the traffic lights are on the blink, cars politely take turns going, as if there's an invisible cop directing traffic. In Boston, cars stream by in one direction until the cars in the other direction start honking and shoving their way through. You've got to admire both the orderliness and the spirit. But it's a little scarier here.


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