Down East 2013 ©
[Editor’s Note: Donovan Graham is a recent graduate of Eastern Maine University in Eastport. He is quite ambitious and eager, so we agreed to let him spend this summer working as an intern for the Eastport Sun. His assignment: writing a blog for us. We sent him to Grand Seal Island to delve into a rapidly escalating spat there between the United States and Canada and share his experiences and thoughts here. It seems that both countries claim sovereign rights over the island, and Canada has recently decided to press the issue. I’ll let Donovan explain the rest. For now, here is the first entry of the “Island Wars” blog. —Kate Fisher, editor, Eastport Sun]
She is stunningly beautiful for a crazy person.
I spent a lot of today watching this gorgeous, potentially certifiable woman make a life-sized, hollow replica of a naked woman out of clay. Her name is Eliza Glass (the sculptress, not the statue). She lives on the south end of Grand Seal Island, in a village officially named Keelscuttle Bay, Maine, USA 04063. But nobody calls it that. Everyone on the island calls the place The Village — I think because it makes people think of Greenwich Village or the Village Voice or the Village People or something. Something kind of ’60s and hippy and druggy and weird. The people of “the town,” which is actually called Grand Seal Island, Maine, USA 04063, on the north end of the island, use the term like an insult, saying “The Village” with the same tone they would use to say “she has a suspicious disease and we don’t know from whom.” But the people in The Village say it with pride, the same way they’d say “bite me, townie.”
Anyway, back to the naked statue. This clay lady stood almost six feet tall, and she wasn’t exactly a skinny supermodel. Women are far stronger than men typically understand, and this clay sculpture glistened with power. She was portly and pudgy and rounded, with a strong belly and big breasts. She had her hands on her hips, like she was daring anyone to not look her in the eye.
Eliza spent the whole morning and most of the afternoon making the clay lady. I’ll admit it was a lot of fun, sitting there on a rock on the beach, with the warm sun shining on my shoulders and the salty breeze making my hair sticky, watching this jaw-droppingly good-looking woman rubbing her wet hands all over this tough-looking naked statue.
Eliza has lived in the Village for almost four years now. She is twenty-eight years old, and she has shaggy brown hair, pale creamy skin, deep green eyes, and sadly, a really intimidating boyfriend. His name is Bo Washington, and he is the biggest black man I have ever seen. He lives with Eliza in one of the little shacks right on the water’s edge, where the waves at high tide come right up to their walls. The shack doesn’t have any doors or windows — just open holes covered with blankets and beads — and on stormy days the ocean must leave jellyfish and shark poop and little brown globs of foam right at the foot of their bed.
Eliza was one of the first people I met when I came to Grand Seal Island a few days ago. I’ll tell you about the others in future blog entries. For now, I was happy to be hanging out at the beach, in the Village, watching Eliza in her torn flannel shirt and frayed denim shorts, barefoot, biting her lip from time to time, bending and stretching and reaching and pressing and shaping and smoothing until the clay lady was just right.
Then things got amazingly bizarre. I was just sitting there, chatting with Eliza every now and then but mostly just letting her work. There were a few other Villagers around, all doing their own funky Villager things. I think Bo was asleep in their shack. Then, all of a sudden, Eliza stood up, bit her lip in a wonderfully sexy and yet thoughtful way, looked at the clay lady, and said “Done!”
Then she took off her clothes.
Eliza, I mean. The clay lady was already naked. Now Eliza was wearing nothing but tiny, sun-bleached, formerly pink bikini bottoms, standing on the rocks in the sun. Eliza was shorter and thinner than the clay lady, but they kind of looked like sisters. I guess all women do when they’re nearly naked.
Then Eliza picked up the clay lady and carried her into a little bay. She just walked right into the ocean, hugging this large clay statue. When she was in the salt water up to her thighs, she lay the clay lady down into the water. The statue floated peacefully, and the little waves made it seem almost alive. Then Eliza lay down next to the clay lady, put her arms around her, hugged her and rolled over her and rode her and turned under her. They wrestled, slowly and gracefully, in the water, Eliza’s white skin and the statue’s brown skin sliding and writhing and trading places.
And the clay gradually dissolved. The water turned terra cotta brown as the clay softened and joined the sea. And the strong, proud, defiant clay lady weakened, and sagged, and collapsed, returning her elements to the ocean that created them. In less than fifteen minutes, the clay lady was gone, and Eliza was swimming sensuously by herself in the coffee-with-cream-colored water.
After the clay lady was gone, lost to the sea, Eliza stood and walked back up the beach to the very spot where she had made the sculpture. Her statuesque body was dripping and glistening — and covered with a thin coat of coffee-with-cream-colored silt. The clay from the statue now clung to Eliza’s skin.
And Eliza stood on the rock where the statue had been, and she put her hands on her hips. Just like the clay lady. And she stood there, defiant, unmoving, strong. And in the sun and the wind, the clay dried on her body, cracking and flaking but there, a veneer of cold strength covering a warm and beautiful body.
And so Eliza became the clay lady. She became elemental. She became everywoman. She became Earth.
And in the background, not too far out to sea, an American battleship approached the island.
This is going to be an awesome summer.
—Donovan Graham, "The Shadowless Writer"
Comment — Gemstone: It seems to me that every summer can be awesome—all you have to do is decide to make it so. The magic comes from enjoying the journey more than the destination. You have a breathtaking setting in which to explore your self and your relation to the world. Don’t blow it.
Comment — MapleLeaf249: Your pathetic little warship can get stuffed. The island belongs to Canada, so bugger off.