When I was ten we took her down
by Brandon Oberg


When I was ten we took her down
to a clear, close lake carved
in stands of yews
where the waving pool was a truer mirror
where I suppose we'd met
and she'd whisper in my ears the intimate words
(like a hand plumbing the curve of a hip)
for the things I'd see

no matter: what was to come
_____was why we came
the splashing as her hands tried to tread
the pinprick water; the silent screams in
our private tongue. My heart wavered,
pumping tears

and I felt my dad's hairy hands
all long thumbs and muscle
close over mine and we drowned her
we drowned her
until my heart stopped beating
and the water turned a falser mirror
than the good silvered glass at home

in later years I took my leisure
at appropriate tropical whatnots
where I swear the same palm trees and bungalows
were cloned and sent to every such
appropriate place
but I rarely thought of what once was home
for more reasons than a house and a town

so like a wounded dog,
the head-shaking, doesn't-look-gooding
the voracious lumps vagabonding in my gut
drove me home
and I drove wrapped in leather and sound
to the old winter lake where the gelid froth,
staccato forest rills,
clutched at my memory as at the earthbound leaves
crushed in piles by the frozen lake
where I bent and saw a whisper of my form

it seemed to move
and the lips shaped the trills
of a long-dead tongue
until the eager talking became frantic signs
but I couldn't understand
so I smiled in a dullard, poppy way
and I couldn't understand the final look
in those liquid eyes
of a heart filled with tears






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