Take your time getting here, I’m busted. The day after Christmas, my husband and I drive to the island, where my brother Willy naps after running calls all day and night. While he was pumping 40 ecstasy pills out of an arsonist’s stomach, we were passing bread and lighting candles in my parents’ church. Now we cross the causeway into thick sea fog— late-December heat wave scraping a cool ocean. We navigate by brake lights and sudden, partial landmarks. The haze lifts near the harbor, where the hulking skeleton of a cruise ship flickers for a moment, then disappears again. Later, we get the firefighter’s tour: the fancy alarm systems; the death traps; the suicides. The small house of the imbalanced, always-naked man who sat on piles of his own shit and called the department so he’d have visitors. He died last month. The island’s full of ghosts, Willy says. Started with the 1900 storm. 6,000 bodies floating. When the waters rose, right before the orphanage roof collapsed, the nuns tied children to their robes with clothesline, the lost clutching the lost. We pull up on a dune at the westernmost edge of the island, and Willy points at the billowing wall of white. We trust that this is really the end, and that the Gulf is really there, just beyond it.

ANNE-MARIE THOMPSON’s poetry collection, Audiation, won the 2013 Donald Justice Award. She works as a technical writer for a software company and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband.