The Color of Lake Water
Believe me my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. —Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
The color of lake water is not clear or murk but both, graded in tannins, in what is there embedded in sand—stones bigger than bed pillows, rocks, bark, pinecones. Do mention old sun-faded beer cans—paint peeled off, crumpled flat, almost just the foil left—each one with a story to convey stored deep within the old can—drunken ice-fishing winters, drunken boating in summer. Today, to set a mooring, we loop around a large rock a length of shiny stainless chain, swivel-shackled and roped to an inflated buoy to warn boaters. We double anchor the chain—to rock, and to our old galvanized steel anchor, cracked. We finally found a use for that old anchor—easily recognized for what it is—its grayness burrowed into sand.
Now under all this lake we need to find our fallen light—a white traveling light—an anchor light we intended to mount today but instead we dropped—lost in the drink they say—I look to the water for its clarity this early evening, expect to see the aluminum stalk, bent near its top a metallic shine at the lake bottom lit by the sun against the muck. As I search and paddle ‘round our boat on its mooring, the shadowed light waxing, the lake darkens. I see mostly the blackness under water—the somber ripples beneath my paddleboard. Each white streak I see, I think, here it is. There it is again, but no, only pontoon reflection—until we move the boat off its mooring back to the dock, and then like a Martian eyeing me from underneath the surface, a plastic case not aground at all, but submerged, vertical—up-down—this seahorse of a Martian—one-eyed, staring—calls to me to reach down and retrieve it—our light unlit, floating bobbing through murkiness the color of the lake at dusk.
Filmmaker and photographer Carla Schwartz
’s poems have been widely published, including in The Practicing Poet
(Diane Lockward, Ed) and in her collections “Signs of Marriage,” “Mother, One More Thing,” and “Intimacy with the Wind.” Her CB99videos youtube channel has 2,400,000+ views. Learn more at carlapoet.com
, or wakewiththesun.blogspot.com
or find her on Twitter
. Recent publications and acceptances include Banyan Review, The Ear, Channel, California Quarterly, Cutthroat, The Poet’s Touchstone, Ibbetson Street, Inquisitive Eater, Paterson Literary Review, New-Verse News, Remington Review, Triggerfish Critical Review, The MacGuffin, Verse-Virtual Online
. Carla Schwartz is a 2023 recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant. Her poem, “Pat Schroeder Was Our Mother,” won the 2023 New England Poetry Club E.E. Cummings Prize.