Whitefish Lake, Fifth of July
All afternoon the ski-boats whomp
and roar, bow-waves curling the lake's cut skin.
Ecstatic, the dog yelps, leaps from the slanted dock,
swims after her ball. Osprey call and pileated call,
loon crying again and again from its shadowed
cove: lake as asylum, where you go
when you're losing your mind. Then evening,
magenta scarf tossed over the day's blue lampshade.
Time for a drink, thank God, time for the bugs
to devour us in earnest. And dinner, at last,
and children's bedtime, and almost a moment
of peace, when the idiot kid next door
screams a leftover bottle rocket into the trees,
then another, cracking like sniper fire
every five minutes or so. But who doesn't love
an explosion? What we've always done best.
Our savage religion. Our smoking answer to everything.
It bathes in your shadow.
It lies down in the book
as you read. Warm nights,
it waltzes the drapes—
cicada-grind in the treetops,
the window's violet
mouthful of sky.
When you dress
it stares out from the mirror,
it stands in the closet
between your pressed clothes.
When you sleep, it writes
in your journal—
come back, come back
at the top of each page.
When I was big I lived
in San Diego, Henry said—
in a tall dark house
with no windows.
I had a dog, and other parents
who were nice. And I said Henry,
when was this? He was three,
had never been to San Diego.
Before I died, he said,
and came to live with you.
Later, you said maybe
he was blind in a past life—
that would account for the house,
and the dog. Well,
I don't believe in all that.
I've only imagined the stranger
peering out now and then
through the eyes of my son.
Asleep now, sweet boy
who won't be left alone
in the dark—who's in love
with everything that shines.
Copyright © 2016 by Jon Loomis. May
not be reproduced without permission.