To talk about the lake is to talk about what happened:
the length of his lie, the sick rocking of the waves
into the stillness of a body on the bathroom floor,
the murky surface of drowning / blueness of memory.
To talk about the lake is to be submerged in it:
knee-deep in July, starving to be suffocated,
how you threw breadcrumbs to the sky & watched
as the pecking flock closed in, screeching—
If I could go back to the sweetness of Sara’s,
red picnic tables sticky in summer heat.
The first time I shed for a boy, sand as my witness,
traded my T-shirt for dark water, invincible breath
some cool trembling of teenage years in the night.
What holds me there now is the lump in the throat
a bottomed-out chest, my weak woman heart.
Dodging the carp washed up on shore in cruel daylight:
no eyes, seeing silver-scaled reflection—
just bones, hard outline of spine.
Pantoum for Presque Isle
Those miled loops like an infinity symbol bent in half,
September sun settling on our shoulders.
It was a lighthouse for the end of my calendar days,
marathoning my words back into the throat.
September sun settling on our shoulders,
each sunset unsaid feels less like home.
Marathoning my words back into the throat,
all the tired ways a wave can break you.
Each sunset unsaid feels less like home,
Perch bending the thin rod of light.
All the tired ways a wave can break you,
those miled loops like an infinity symbol bent in half—
Kara Knickerbocker is the author of The Shedding Before the Swell (2018) and Next to Everything that is Breakable (2017). She currently lives in Pennsylvania where she writes with the Madwomen in the Attic at Carlow University, and co-curates the MadFridays Reading Series.
Find her at www.karaknickerbocker.com, on Twitter at @karaknick, and on Instagram at @fromthissideofthesun.