Jul/Aug 2019 Poetry

Lake Elmore, October First (three studies)

by Scudder Parker

Multimedia artwork by Belinda Subraman

Multimedia artwork by Belinda Subraman

Lake Elmore, October First (three studies)

Curled beige feathers, downy at the base,
litter the stream that wanders toward us
and Elmore's lake. Beavered alder branches,

submerged pond-hair cushions, duckweed
corralled by viburnum roots, all strewn
as though by a gentle pillow fight.

We paddled past managed shorelines with tidy
cottages, to this neighborhood of lily pads
and pickerel weed, hidden from their sight.

More happens here, like the basement day-care
center, chorused with children, always cluttered,
doing a better business than the church.

This is the water's sweet meander, slow
channel where merganser, mallard grew.
It's also where the storm flood races through.

My grandson cried when he gave up his
first and favorite bike, the one he trusted
enough to let his feet release the ground.

I had to argue with myself against
the urge to dry his eyes, hurry him along,
stop, honor that lonely keening sound.

Two young ducks try to keep one bend upstream
from us. Trapped by our invasion, they finally
stop. One leaps to flight, the other hides

behind marsh grass, in a small alder pocket.
We paddle by, eyes averted, our
small courtesy. It quivers as we pass.

Six summer weeks this was their home
and world; now they leave for something new.
I think: "detachment—that's illusion too."

When we first approached, a heron rose up
like a scarecrow taking flight. It might be
in the next pool, plying its silent heron tricks.

But a beaver pond opens before us,
flood at eye level. No heron, just water
seeping through a thousand sticks.

This summer we went up five streams.
The beaver, always there, insist: "It's
the effort, not the dam, that's permanent."

We put off our leaving, poke up every bulrush
alley, give in at last, turn, stroke hard across
the open reach, land on the expanse of beach.

Women in bright saris watch their boisterous
men play tag, joined by the youngest daughter.
We greet them, lift the boat, leave our visit in the water.


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