I have lived on the coast of Maine for several years and find that it is not far enough from civilization. One morning, I take the ferry out to the Cranberry Islands in search of a further outpost.

It's only a twenty minute ride to the first and largest island. I stand the whole way facing the sea spray and hearing the cry of the gulls. We pass the fishing boats as we pull into the dock, and the handful of passengers climb off. I make way through a maze of nets and crates of fresh fish. It seems I am the only tourist on the boat because everyone else moves quickly and disappears into their lives.

Everyone moves quickly and disappears into their livesI stand there wondering in which way to go. I am mildly interested in finding a place to live on the island, but I have no idea how to do that. I decide that this is an exercise in trust. I will just go and see where my feet take me.

It's the hottest point of the summer, and the most alive with buzzing in the heavy laden branches. I am used to unpaved lanes, but here, even the main road is just hard packed dirt. I follow it. I pass a few of the islanders, think of speaking to them, maybe asking them a question, but it's too soon to formulate what that question might be. I am alone. I have absolutely no itinerary and no agenda.

I turn off the main road and walk down a narrow lane. There are two or three one story houses, their wooden shingles almost completely covered over by flowery vines. The colors clash and ignite each other. Half of the flowers are cultivated and half are wild, and they are everywhere. At the last house in the lane, they spread all the way down the cliff to the sea. I stand at the bluff and look down across the rocks to where the flowers turn into swirling seaweed.

I imagine the fishermen's wives inside their houses. Do they sit by the windows and look out to sea with their sketchbooks or journal pads? Or do they stand in the kitchen making their pies and chowders? If they are like me, they try to do both, but find that one or the other ends up burning.

I begin to understand why I've made this trip. Now I can see my life from a distance. That must be one of the purposes of an island: an invention that isolates, that brings us away from the things that numb us. An island wakes us up because of the body of water that separates us from all the rest of life.

As I walk back up the lane, I feel aware of a Presence that walks with me. I sense that a new chapter of my life is about to begin, but I haven't a clue where the setting will be or who the main characters are. It seems logical that the island will play an important part, but then it occurs to me that I am finding myself in a new way because of the Presence and only indirectly because of the island.

I walk slowly, but it only takes me under a half hour to walk straight across the island. It still has the flavor of a settlement—a number of fishermen and their families, and maybe a few individuals like myself who are hard to categorize, possibly writers or artists or just plain people who like the solitude and island living.

I am alone. I have absolutely no itinerary and no agenda I walk past a large field with a scattering of old clapboard homes. The dirt feels different now as it turns into beach sand. I've walked straight across the island to the other side, and I stand facing out to sea again.

This is not a tranquil bay cupped between islands. I stand facing the Atlantic Ocean stretched taut across the horizon. If I keep going with great strides and just manage to rise a few feet off the ground, I will finally hit Europe.

I lie down on the sand, and let my new awareness bake into me. I feel a strange but comfortable equanimity about leaving behind all that I left behind on the mainland. I have an urge to stay, not on the island, but in this new consciousness forever.

I feel the Presence gently keeping me company, maybe even speaking to me, showing me from where I came, pointing out the roles of different people in my life, and reminding me that I am really standing above it all. My teaching, my comraderie with other Maine poets, my standing in the community, and pursuing my dream of building a house with my own two hands have entangled me in a certain kind of daily existence. Now I feel myself being gently disentangled, gently eased out of the knots, loosened from the nets. It's so easy. I just have to relax, and finally I'm freed.

I hear the surf, and its rhythm is soothing. Maybe I fall asleep for a short time. When I wake up, everything is the same. I am at the end of an island at the farthest point of a continent where I don't know a single person and haven't uttered a single word, even to ask directions. With all that being true, I have never felt such an alert and serene inner watchfulness.

When I waited in my mother's womb, my eyes were open, and I saw close to me the beauty of my hands like buds opening, and further out, the play of light on the membrane that separated me from my mother. I floated in the perfect warmth of her waters, and beyond that thin wall were burgundy red veins that pulsed with my pulse.

I have an urge to stay, not on the island, but in this new consciousness foreverMy eyes connect me to everything. The sand I drizzle out of my fists, the smooth beach line, the sea and sky stretching out to infinity. With only the thin membrane of my eyelids between us. The Presence is the gentle voice showing me now as it showed me in the womb and feeding me now everything as it fed me in the womb—sustencance, love, and truth.

I will stand up and walk back to the ferry. I will pass the fishermen's houses overladen with blossoming vines. I will hear the sound of the bees and feel the slow cooling of the afternoon. I will board the ferry and stand with my back to the island, and I will know that I will never have a reason to return here, not to live for six months, and not even to visit for the day. I will not have to post a notice, "Looking to rent on the Island," because I will have changed course completely.