Melissa Roberts


         In 1853, a woman was found on San Nicolas Island, off the southern coast
         of California.  The woman, known as the Lone Woman of San Nicolas,
         had lived alone on the island for 18 years.


The rain comes
or does not come

The sun burns its way through cloud
Or holds back 

Another season of rain
The same leak in my whale-bone hut

I sleep alone
and wake more alone

It seems the waves would tire of breaking
day and night

scattering the jagged trail
of algae

and stone I scavenge
come morning       There: another

empty exoskeleton
a severed leg’s loosely hinged joint

What’s at hand makes a life:

more or less suitable
A dress of feathers plucked

from a dead cormorant

to conceal my flesh in the habit
of modesty       Hope

that today before the light is lost
someone might find me