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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Lake

That lake was everything to us,
bathtub in the summer,
a shortcut to town during winter,
source of food and fun.

darkly deep, muskie wide at one end,
shallow, bluegill small at the other,
a squiggly channel in the middle,
looking like a misshaped dumbbell.

Economically poor,
but we didn’t know it,
we all had a boat of some kind.
Mostly, they were rowboats,
aluminum if your dad had a good job,
an Evinrude motor on the back if
there was a rich uncle somewhere.

That lake had its mysteries,
ate a human or two every year,
sucked them down into the weeds,
next to the cars it swallowed every spring,
the ones driven on to the ice in March,
at the American Legion ice fishing jamboree.

In late spring, early summer,
before vacationers’ traffic clouded the surface,
you could drift idly,
see the ancient tree stumps below,
wonder what the land was like before the floe.

If you had a motor,
or a young person’s energy,
you could get out to Stumpy Bay,
or to Stone Bank,
where the best fishing was.

You’d see birds of every type,
small crabs near the shore,
could stare at the sky,
see where it joined the water, 
and if you stayed out late enough,
watch that lake swallow the sun,
waiting for the star show,
catching a night bonfire up the hill.

That lake was everything to us,
and I bet, on still days,
it served as a mirror
for God’s morning primp.
There are 10,000 lakes
in the state next door,
even more up north, in Canada,
but we only needed one,
and it made us richer than we knew.

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