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LIVING LIFE STREAKED

Atwater, lake, poem, Shorewood

Several years ago I stood at the top of Atwater Bluff and watched a storm move over the lake, towards me, towards me, and finally above me. Everything I wore was wet with rainwater. I thought it was pure, clean, no need for the washer and dryer, I’d hang my soggy jeans on the line. That’s when I discovered the reek of acid rain.

Since then I haven’t purposely let a storm drench me, no matter how dramatic its entrance into the eastern sky. I do walk or bike to the bluff, especially for spring and summer sunsets, whenever I get the chance. Sometimes I merely admire the scene, sometimes I draw, sometimes I write. And I hope that the only drops falling on me will be eavesdrops.

My purse is filled with pieces of scrap paper, shorthand scribbles legible only to me. Here’s one about two or three weeks old: Two days ago at the verge of sunset, the Atwater Beachscape mesmerized all of us there to celebrate a break in the rains. The pastel pink clouds to the south were so distinct they appeared outlined. The still water, luminous as it reflected the vanishing light from the west, was streaked aqua and pink. And now I’m here again, same time of day, benched on the landing one flight above the sand.
“So many steps, this is absurd,” mutters someone climbing upwards.
“Long way down there,” says a woman peering from the top.
“A lotta stairs.”
“Look at all these steps.”
“It’s a long way down,” a boy’s voice this time.
The light gradually turns dreamlike, but tonight everyone’s looking at the steps.

Here’s a piece of paper that actually has a date, June 25: It’s stunning again tonight, but people as always trudge up and down, attention focused on steps instead of pink-blue sky reflected on pink-blue lake.
“I thought you said you were gonna carry me.”
“Carry you? No. You need an army to carry you!”
The redwing black birds converse in melodic bird chirps. It's hard to imagine what they're saying. Do they, too, love luminosity?
Still water, rippled streaks, colors subtle, alluring, luring me to stay when it’s time to go.
Bird speak, bird cheep, bird trill, tones sweet, getting dark, three-dimensional bird-sounds, gulls add their sour notes. It’s hard for me to leave the birdversation.

I’ve been a shore bird my whole life, writing, drawing, painting, contemplating. So I’ll end with one of my lake poems, written years ago:

THE DARK SIDE

Where the surface is textured
Like treads on a tire
The water is dark,
But where it is calm
There is light,
Where it is calm
There is light,
Perhaps that's why lakes
are streaked.

Where warmth and cold meet
There's traveling heat
Creating wind, gale, breeze.
If there were no cold,
where would warmth go?
If there were no cold,
where would warmth go?
Would there be currents
in lakes, lagoons, seas,
Would there be currents
in me?

The outside opposes,
Or flows with,
the currents beneath,
Affecting the light side
The dark side, the streaks.
What would light fill
If darkness weren't there?
What would light fill
If darkness weren't there?
Would there be currents
in me?

The inside opposes
or flows with
Crosses
or goes with
Exposes or hides.
Unlike the lake
our surface being skin
Makes less transparent
the currents within
The light sides, the dark sides
What do our hides hide?
Why do we live our lives streaked?
 

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