Feb 22, 2011

Lake Ouachita, Late Summer

Written by Corinna McClanahan Schroeder

Read by George David Clark

You swim to the next cove, the only act
of leaving you can take here in the water’s
flow. Kicking away, you shred the lake
into heavy white spray. I clutch an orange raft,
poor swimmer, and float. I half know
to follow you after a fight, half know to let you

go. The rented pontoon, tied to a sapling,
grinds its metal base against the pebbled shore.
Islands litter the waterscape, hilltops before
they dammed the river. Never cut, the forest
is still rooted below. The guidebook says
striped bass, bream, and freshwater jellyfish dart

through the canopy. I’m good at thinking
of these other things—the drone of motorboats,
the whir and zip of brooch-sized dragonflies.
It’s mating season for them. After that
comes death. We are weeks from our first anniversary,
weeks from moving into a house we’ll hate,

weeks from all the other weeks we can’t
anticipate. You return in the form of a head
bobbing up through the water’s glare. Near me
again, you keep your jaw clenched, and I take
your hand, but not too quick. In spite of myself,
I want to kiss your shoulders, already over-pink,

exposed. Every day we learn how hard a marriage is.
I balance my foot on the stub-end of a drowned tree
that stretches its blanched trunk who knows how far
down, and you take hold of my raft. We don’t speak.
There’s a metaphor here, perhaps, but we’re still
too awe-struck at what we’ve done to know.

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