we go to visit, my sister and I, the lady who lives in the old house on the floating island. the island rests on the water just about 30 feet offshore on lake superior and floats back and forth along the beach. there’s little substance to the island itself, no stone to fasten a house’s foundation to– the lady’s parents built the house many years previous when she was just a child– like a gigantic doll’s house, flimsy and romantic. there’s a firepole and sweet porches– one problem is that there’s no staircase between the lower and upper floors, only a makeshift bookshelf she’s contrived to climb for the purpose– but it’s loose and tricky. my sister insists that there once was a staircase and puzzles over the mystery, searches for it in vain. the woman in the house is blind and infirm, the house itself become a curiosity for tourists, hardly viable– it seems it will crumble or tip and sink any day. we’re negotiating for its sale to someone who wants such an ungainly elephant, but later I realize I want to keep it, fortify and restore it– there’s too much history there to forfeit it. nothing will grow in the little patch of garden, and I go out and start planting kernels of corn but stop when I realize I must first improve the soil and find better quality seed stock.