The Unusual Art of Living Well

Olivia smiles out at blue-gray water, miles of driftwood
and stone thrown up against the shore. She is oyster in homemade hat,

cold nipping at the soft parts of her face. Presque Isle
frames itself nicely in her phone’s camera—photographs she sells

to make a meager living on the internet. There,
pink flamingos dance beak-to-wing-to-toe in silver shallows,

a Sarasota Salsa, alongside three tall posing palms titled Stooges,
their fronds personalizing each dowdy head. Boats moor Haven Island

in a sea of red, white, and green paint along its coast, their little ropes
reaching toward a viewer. And in Mexico,

she has summoned a series of Jalisco Ghosts—swirling
folk dancers implied by widespread blurred rainbows, tanned heads, hands,

and leather-heeled feat. A city arcs into
bright cobalt blue and she calls it simply St. Louis; not like Yard Flowers

in Cleveland or Grungy Pittsburgh Garages. And she has so much to say
about Michigan where the dunes and lakes are always beguiled by its photo-

friendly people: Girl in Beach Hat, Boy Collecting Shells, and Swimmers
at Ludington Lighthouse. Today,

her own pockets are filled with the red rocks of Lake Erie
and sea glass she scuttles from sand in hand before leaving the beach

to walk toward a van laden with all of her worldly treasures. Ohio
it reads in blocked metal letters—as well as Missouri,

Florida, Georgia, and Maine stickered
for all the places she’s been since a three-year divorce left her

with nothing—a husband’s final revenge. Next,
she says, she will go to Nova Scotia: I can follow her there on Instagram.

Last updated November 14, 2022