Fish Lake

by Spencer Smith

Duck wing applause mocks my arrival
on the western shore, pine shadows
prickling my back and pushing my dark image
out over the skin of water, wrinkled in the aging day.

Tongues of wetness lap at my feet in exhaustion
and a nearby pale amputation of driftwood
shifts orientation like the needle of a compass.

Twenty-two years have passed but the smells
are unchanged: rotting log, forest loam, pine gum
and damp sand with a hint of trout.

An occasional sharp crack sounds in the forest,
a mild soughing of breeze sifting through needles
and a bathtub trickle of water on earth, but I hear
beneath it all a frantic splash too far away to reach,
gurgling cries of a child, and then silence
except for my own apocalyptic screaming,
still echoing in the bark and rocks of the quiet valley.

I zip my jacket against the chill. A sparrow,
startled by the unfamiliar noise, flits to a higher branch
and stares at me, intrusively, one eye at a time.

[Check out Spencer’s Back Porch wisdom here]