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December 2008, vol 4 no 4

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Clyde Kessler

 

Nests and Ghosts

Stare at the grebe nest
it floats among the sedges
a lake from moonlight.

It is now mid winter. Ice owns most of the lake. The grebes have journeyed far away, but they may return. You cannot stand on the pier without seeing Midge Burley’s ghost staring into the ice. The ghost is almost whispered into the planks when you see her. A few gulls are sitting on ice in the middle of the lake. Some kids have thrown rocks from the shore, and the rocks are resting there like the opening eyes of ghosts staring back.

Spring will be late. Midge’s oldest boy Sam says this. He has walked all around the lake shore thinking. None of us walk with him anymore. He says you can see the signs of a late spring in the way the ice is leaning into the pier and the rip-rap. Clouds are dumping snow again and last night had lightning in the snow. A stray dog is walking on the ice way out there, where one gull is walking in front of it leading the dog to where it will fall through some thin ice. If the dog drowns in the lake, that’s another sign, says Sam. And Sam is older than you might guess.

Sam is writing stuff in a journal. His sisters don’t do that anymore. His only brother doesn’t do that either, though he takes out personals in the newspaper about love, except it really isn’t him, just a mean joke. Sam looks too young walking the shore. Is Sam looking for Midge’s ghost? Everybody else can see her standing on the pier; she’s holding a blue scarf. An eagle flies over Sam’s right shoulder—its head is whiter than flurry snow. Spring will be late.

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