touching bottom

I cannot keep these days from sinking –
thirty-four years away, I awake
to the smell of lake water
and its soft slaps against the poles
of the dock, the wood on aluminum
of oars caught in oarlocks

three and more decades gone, and I know
with certainty that the lake bottom
is still sandy, and that at twilight,
two loons will arrive – carved from
a perfect summer night – to begin their calls
with rising chortles pulled into those
longer notes that seek out our edges,
indistinguishable from the edges of the sky

thirty-four years back, I might return
and instruct that wide-eyed summer self
to plant her heart in that space,
where it might quietly wait with the pines,
with the dry sighs of summer grasses,
and the smooth leaves of the wintergreen –
for some other sun-quivering July day,
when her feet can touch bottom again

© Sarah Whiteley

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