Tidal Island by Suzanne Allen

Tidal Island

One Monday morning she wakes
like Mont Saint Michel at low tide—
everyone gone,
her shores,
vast and exposed, stretched out around
her sea walls, which are battered,
of course, but not broken
at all. In French,
“wall” is a masculine noun, and “mountain”
and “bridge” are, too. Hers
are often fully lost
in rising tumult,

but on days like today, they amount to
a giant hill to climb from the sandy bottoms
of a natural, sort-of shifting
moat. It all ebbs
and flows with the moon, she knows,
so she sometimes stays up with it
all night, climbs her steps
alone at sunrise,
stops to rest in the garden facing the distant flames
of another day; then, just to be unable
to kiss them goodnight,
she walks around

and around all day until it’s time,
watches them slip beyond her line of sight
and turn the sky to smolder.
She wonders what might be possible
if the tide never came in again. It’s not
what she wants or
fears. She is not an island.
No one is the tide. Only gravity can do that,

and it wouldn’t dare.


Suzanne Allen is a teacher from Southern California. She holds an MFA from the CSU in Long Beach, and her poems have appeared widely in print and online, but this past year-and-a half, they’ve mostly only been written on postcards and mailed near and far; not coincidentally, her first full-length collection, We Wash Our Hands, will soon be released into the hopefully post-pandemic wild. She also has two chapbooks: verisimilitude from corrupt press (2011) and Little Threats from Picture Show Press (2018).