common / Mackinac Poems

An Island Named Mackinac

George L. Warden

May 13, 2010

To the Editor: 

I am one of the many millions of visitors that arrive at the dock on Mackinac Island to spend a day enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the epic island.
 
My wife's and my visit last summer included a couple of overnights at the Island House Hotel where I was inspired to write a few lines describing the island and its unique ambience. When we returned to our home in Muskegon, Michigan I finished the poem.
  
George L.Worden
Muskegon
 
An Island Named Mackinac
George L. Worden
November 2009 

   
Shod hooves of horses drum a beat on the streets
Of a picturesque island in the Mackinac Straits.
An island that rises from a crystal clear deep
Overseeing the place where two inland seas meet.
 
Motorized vehicles may not travel this isle.
Instead, horses and carriages carry visitors in style.
Proud steeds draw stately coaches for the Grand Hotel
While their lesser cousins pull simple coaches for tourists quite well.
 
Freight of all sorts lies stacked on a dock
Hay bales and straw bales for the equine livestock
And stacks of foodstuffs and spirits; these are all hauled away
By teams of powerful horses each hitched to a dray.
 
An eerie silence descends on a dark summer’s night
As if nature shuts her door and turns out the light.
The quiet is deafening as it creeps into my room
Through a wide open window on a night with no moon.
 
At dawn life emerges to the call of the birds
And the ferries arrive with their loads of visitors.
The streets awaken to a touristy buzz
Mixed with scents of horses and chocolate fudge.
 
The streets in the village offer abundant choices
Such as museums, hotels and bistros, and shops of all sizes.
There are liveries for horses and bicycles too
And a haunted mansion where one can hear “boo!”
 
Swarms of bicycle riders dart and dodge their way through
Crowded streets filled with families and horses too.
Many of these folks take the eight mile ride
Encircling this island on state highway M-185.
 
Street cleaners on trikes toil from morning till night
Busily removing horse droppings from sight.
A large box is attached to hold the refuse.
Here shovels and brooms are put to good use.
 
As for history, this island has much to tell
About historic Forts, the sound of an ancient church bell.
She was a centuries old home to the Ojibwa tribes
Long before Jean Nicolet and Jacques Marquette arrived.
 
Her location was strategic for defense and for trade.
She guarded the shipping lanes that passed through the Straits.
Two battles were fought here between us and the Brits
Who defeated us twice near where old Fort Holmes still sits.
 
There are large stately mansions, once built by old wealth.
They sit facing the straits like sentinels on the lookout for stealth.
The Governor’s Mansion stands out with an elegant flair
Standing watch on the harbor, its flags briskly slapping the air.
 
An historic wharf provides moorings for all sorts of craft
Such as ferries, cruise ships and freighters that need a deep draught.
Ancient side-wheeler steamships once tied up to its sides.
Back then these ships offered tourists a luxurious ride.
 
This splendid island is one of Michigan’s treasures.
Add two pleasant peninsulas that fill out the measure.
Fresh water seas wash up on all of her shores.
While bountiful forests define her outdoors.
 
The great State of Michigan offers this collective awe
Including an Island named Mackinac.
 

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