It didn’t matter which one, they were a chain of lakes
in crooks of dells and around every sharp curve.
The lake was bottomless so when we swam we knew
it was for keeps but the water held us and let us play
in it and only once did I feel a moment of fear. Big Star
or White Fish or Podunk or Half Moon. The lake was dark
and rolling and it was glass and it was still bottomless
and cold, spring-fed jets of ice we swam through and sought
on the hottest days, bottomless yet we ran aground and
lost the pin on the motor and had to row home. What is
the pin? How could we lose it? There was nothing
the bottomless lake would not accept. I have seen it swallow
a piano, a truck. Condoms, not fresh, washed ashore.
It was the ocean because we had never seen the ocean.
The little sun and closer moon rose over our bottomless lake,
so bottomless we told it everything and there was room for more.
by Elizabeth Kerlikowske
Editor’s note: Surreal narrative drives the movement of this poem. It defies easy explication, but if one suspends the need for understanding, it’s easy to let the lines and imagery carry one from pragmatism to spirituality.
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