Islands, Cliffs, My Sister by Bri Wilson

We hovered on a cliff — departure — so we went to the water

after the sunlight had left, sparing the moon.

Our steps tumbled over an army of rocks,

and the whispering stars waited for us to stand in our skin

on the empty beach, the waves’ gentle hush

luring us into the lake, me and my sister,


our splashes puncturing the silence. My sister

and me, bodies like knives cutting through the water,

our fingertips slicing the surface, the hush

scattering like droplets. We were watched by the moon,

following our feet shearing sand, the legion of rocks

defeated. The stars’ whispers traced our hair, our eyes, our skin.


We dove into the cool wet and the cool wet dove into our skin.

Breaths caught, suspended, I held mine and so did my sister

in a world of condensed scope: sand, sky, lake, rocks:

every familiar and unfamiliar inch of us swallowed by water

every familiar and unfamiliar inch of us swallowed by the hush.

We were pulled into the depths by the light of a moon

that made everything glistening and eternal. The moon

and the lake softened and and renewed us, our skin

brightened with assurance, our hot hearts cooled in the hush.

I watched the enduring waves bear away from me my sister,

turning us into islands, rising. The immense water

wrapping its arms around us, a shield from the biting rocks.


If we had become islands, rising — battalions of rocks

casting themselves into orbit, the gracious moon

circuiting earth in a slow spectral dance, and the water

shaken and flung like unwanted rain from our skin.

Lake Michigan watching a fledgling atoll and its sister

bloom in the bay, bearing a quiet summery hush.


But we were created to dive from cliffs — and inside the hush

we pulled ourselves from smooth lake to cantilevered rocks,

where we realized how we were less and more and my sister

tied the towel under her arms, her body hidden from the moon.

We slipped from the beach, the waves slipping off our skin,

and slipped into an emergence, bright, as we left the water.


Our moon-soaked skin remembers the water,

seeks the architectural hush buried in the rocks,

the breath of the lake still expanding in me and my sister.