The lower lake

i The summer is past, the schools are full. The sky is a cut peach. Through the humidity the fat man rows, heaped like spoil in his row-boat, struggling the water and air. You are swimming lengths through the cold drawn under-water of the reservoir, the tannin silk, the rot. Lifeguards, college girls browned and red-wrapped gather on the raked sand to jostle their sharp perfections. ii The sun sets itself down like a sack among the hills, a charcoal stump, a bright trickle for the gullies. The brook carries on, assuming the lake portion by portion. Cavalcade of shadows. You have laced yourself tightly together, buried the ends, promised yourself again to the difficulty, as among the darkened lily stems perch are busy piecing together the over-perch, the one thought worth thinking for perch. iii Oblivion of crickets over the black baskets of trees, the watchtower air, the settled miles. There are trains moving, heavy bells among the boughs. There are roots and lures, nests cracking in the willows. You are warm in the dark with yourself— the granite ciphers, the quarries of sleep. I too and for twenty years have drifted these woods. I am more than nothing to them, a try of their pollen, a summer stem of their perfection. iv Early light let from the pines and night put away in its pots. Catbirds tinker in the filaments of lilac. Slight ruin beneath the trellised grapes—the scabrous table, the still tea. The vines have climbed to the mock-orange, are reaching for the dogwood and are themselves a trellis for honeysuckle. Mothers linger at the street corner, the lit grapes are crowded with darkness and you are a brook of blood, that difficult water.

David Troupes