Voices on the Wind
Voices on Relaxation
by Janet Barry
I am an old woman. I sit beside a lake tinted with the sadness of
loon song, an evening, low branches hung blue and the presence of mud,
memories, birth cries, the snaky tendrils of discarded bikini straps.
The cottages draw close, their docks a row of sows' teats offered
to an insatiable tribe of watercraft. I know nothing of the lives
within. I know everything. It doesn't matter. I place a withered
toe between sand and water, that liquid zone where one can be a
breather of air or a learner of strange words choked in algae and weed.
I am an old woman. I came here once when the story was first forming.
Around the edges of a pebble. A fir cone. I did not name the trees then,
or pretend that they cared when I played about their roots. I did not
sorrow at the sight of stones ground free from all imperfections. There was
a salamander in the reeds, brown against brown, which I caught and carried
in my outstretched palms until it suffocated. Its burial was beautiful.
My guilt so fleeting. So everlasting. I am an old woman, by the lake.
The cottages laugh and play their dance tunes. Their windows yellow
even as the lights go out. The children finding rest. The parents
having a last drink out on the screened porch. Crickets. A radio
somewhere beating out a tired and comfortable drum riff, da dum, da dum.
I swish my toe to its rhythm, stirring silt which wanted only to lie still.
On the sandy bottom. Undisturbed by my thin twine mooring.