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October 2016, vol 12 no 3

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Michele Root-Bernstein


We arrive in Lausanne towards evening. From the hotel window I see Lake Geneva shaped against a small harbor. Let’s go for a walk on the promenade, I say to my husband, before it’s too late. The lake is so narrow we can see land on the other side catapulting into hills, mountains and beyond them, the Alps. The lower mountain reaches grow dark, while the peaks catch the fading light. Part of me belongs here, I murmur. My husband nods and we lean together into what remains of the glow.

every last starling
wheels away

Next morning I walk alone to a small beach, where I dip my hand into the lake. As the waves wash-wash-wash through my fingers, I try to recall everything I know about my mother’s childhood, here by the mountains she loved so dearly – before she flew off to a life far away; before she returned with her family for a summer in the heartland; before she never came back from anywhere ever again. I try to recall her presence, too, but it has been so long now since I last heard her voice. On impulse I pick up five small, wave-worn stones, one each for my brothers, my sister, myself.

phantom memory
wingbeats shadow
the shore