Lakes have no centre, my rowing gets me lost.
My oars dowse for what I am owed or that
is what I do not tell myself and the boy facing me.
He cannot remember why we have come so far;
his withheld questions reply to my silence.
It began with a painting I have always known.
The simple geometric figures tell the story of a woman
tending an egg-shaped cradle. A young girl
leans over the baby, bestowing important gifts.
The gifts are secrets. The woman sews, threading
her needle between the infant and her giver,
linking them in their invisible act of confirmation.
A boy at the open doorway lets in light, but
the girls’ futures carry the younger diving into the lake,
a key like a jeweled crucifix around her neck.
Secrets held by two-ply thread are safe deposit
locks opened only by both keys at once.
The boy on my boat, who may or may not
be the boy of the light, visited the Louvre
twice. The first time to find what people seek
in her. A year later, he wandered from her cluster
of admirers, bored with what he could not understand:
Lisa’s face held in a moment between the day-to-day
and the something more. She is not even pretty or
slender. The kind of girl who might jump in the back
of someone’s pickup and head out to the river.
Her hands are familiar, the ones at visitations,
small brown wrens stilled by rat poison.
Eons of rocky landscapes, overzealous canvas
cleaners and physicians, too much solvent, the
wrong solvent, the woman is damaged, complex.
The water is deep here. Deep is where I expect
a key to rise up from its resting place, but
nothing happens. So I row back, the murkiness
giving way to sunlight contaminating night with the
gold and gilt glass gesture and fluidity of Chihuly.
Minnows tread water, fleeing the oars, my haste.
The teenage boy is with me; he is my son and
I love him. He has no idea what I am looking for,
hates the boat and puddle at our feet, wants a Sea-Doo.
I talk to him about my cousin’s life, expecting
something from him. Neither of us knows what.
When we reach the dock his friend asks what we caught,
but my son and I feel the same way about fishing.
This poem first appeared in Luanne Castle's book, Doll God (Aldrich Press, 2015.)
Luanne Castle's Kin Types (Finishing Line Press), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Award. Her first poetry collection, Doll God, winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, was published by Aldrich Press. A Pushcart nominee, she studied at the University of California, Riverside (PhD); Western Michigan University (MFA); and Stanford University. Her writing has appeared in Copper Nickel, TAB, The American Journal of Poetry, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Verse Daily, Broad Street, Lunch Ticket, Grist, River Teeth, and other journals.
The Ekphrastic Review
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