• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 04
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When We Drove Up to the Lake Home Dad Just Bought

I saw a dirty-white bungalow poised
at the edge of a swamp
dotted with sword-like reeds
rising out of the stagnant water.
The roar in my head drowned out
my mother’s protests at his decision.
Beyond the liminal passage lay the lake
bounded by docks and moored motorboats.
But on our side, brownish-green sludge
and the occasional pin oak and cottonwood
trees dissolving into the slurry.
Each summer I spent there, sulky,
away from my friends and civilization.
Each summer Dad delighted in the chaos.
I scowled at tadpoles and turtles, frogs
on the lily pads, tail-dragging muskrats.
A family of ducks lived nearby, and warblers
and dragonflies flitted and flew by.
Silent snakes slithered just under
the murky surface. Although I was just
out of grade school that first year, Dad
put me to work raking the swamp, hauling
out rocks and decomposing seaweed.
When I complained, he yelled or worse.
I learned to protect myself from
the seething teeming brown water.
Taught myself to breathe and how
to see through all that decay.