Originally published in Measure, Volume 3, Issue 1, 2008
Through the bright of day he sees a girl
Swim fifty yards, a sleepy crawl,
Out to the rock. And in her wake
The light, a thousand nickels, falls
As though each wheeling stroke unfurls
A broken sun upon the lake.
So many girls like her have swam
From shore to sun-washed throne,
On toes and fingers clambered up
Into the coddling air, and known:
An island of one I have and am,
The water and warmth are mine to keep.
Like her they must have tipped their chins,
Spread out their limbs, the lake unbraiding
From their hair, their skin tanned strops
To the hissing razor of the sun.
Like her they wore their vacations
In burnished cheeks, bikini tops.
He watches from afar, perched on
A fallen log, his feet two bleached
And lifeless fish beneath the lens
The sluggish shallows make. He’s beached
By age, his faded eyes upon
The languid girl, the middle distance.
That rock, he knows, will outlast us,
Will feel another century
Of girls declare its back their bed
On summer days. That rock will see
Them burn away to rainbow dust,
Like dragonflies, by winter dead.