Amanda Oliver
4 min readJul 9, 2020

written after Mary Ruefle’s MONUMENT

A small world had ended. Like all worlds, it was made of time. The Canadian-American border stood between us would never vanish. I had moved to the island because you were there. I had flown back and forth, and you had been still. And now, I was sitting on a ferry, watching sky eat ocean. The water was the same, but now it was the one that washed me away from you. It was a rainy day on the island and people were wearing raincoats and scarves, dazed by the rain, which was not the typical rain of summer, which had surprised them, but the weight of it was the end of another small world, which had also ended, spring. I knew I would call on this memory of the end of us and I had gotten on the ferry boat willingly, no longer able to battle for us, as I had always been the one fighting, and the only skill I had left other than loving you was to leave, and to leave was to end everything. I was staring at the back of the seat in front of me, the ferry boat was full that day, the little girl with her fathers was swinging her feet, and I had begun to cry, and to think of our last kiss, which was a rushed kiss, and I had set my notebook next to me so I might write, might capture the world once between us, set in the center of my notebook, a summary of the world that made sense. And perhaps also in my mind was the hope that using only the middle of the notebook meant the rest could be for the rest of us, because surely this was not the end, our language had words no one else knew and our universe had constellations we had named on our backs, they might have looked like the Big Dipper, but we had named parts of it Arrow Home and Nigel and Elaine, after our love and our middle names, and our names became synonyms for love and our love became synonyms for names, and no one would understand if they overheard, and this could fill many notebooks. And then I saw the little girl turn and face me, her hair blonde and her eyes blue, my fully-grown face twisted in aching, and by then I was crying noticeably and still not writing, though there was the pen in my hand — like the ink knew everything and just needed to write it quickly — but there was no way to write about us because I could barely see, and the boat was rocking at a steady pace now which meant we had reached a certain knot and that certain knot meant I was already miles away even though I had just been in the vehicle, holding your hand…

Amanda Oliver

Author of OVERDUE: Reckoning with the Public Library • writer, editor, teacher • amandaoliver.com