—Lake Superior, Marquette.
I’ll never forget your laugh as we broke the dark
with our hands, the lake’s flat sheen sparked
into diamonds—a shower of glitter. We splashed
in shallow waves beneath a mottled grey,
that day’s ashy clouds allowing the sun
only fleeting peeks, the way a transient flame
from embers—leaps. We keep so much inside.
Nearing sunset, we watched the sky’s wool quilt
retreat, for good, and cheered—the coast’s
tall pines, the jutting cliffs instantly blazing,
everywhere dripping with big gold light.
Only then I felt it inside—I knew—that despite
our bright play, earlier the darker day had somehow
snuffed delight, as if the shrouding clouds
had drawn a double shade. It’s easy to recall
the surface of a day—the brief flash any picture
catches—how we swam and laughed, our hearts
ignited by the sudden light. But, like most days,
that day’s treasure lies deeper. Let’s look again,
down through the glassy green and amber, past
silver scattering flakes of minnows.
Do you remember those stones, the ones
they call yooperlites? How they flashed in murky
silt—and how we’d gasp at their passing beams,
beacons on the lake floor, gleaming
from the inside. Today, on a winter morning,
I hold one of those dull grey stones we kept, heavy
as an antique coin. Nothing flashy about it. A cool
smooth cloud flecked with tiny white stars that seem
too many miles away to dazzle a world into day.
But you and I know better. Why hold such a blaze
and not show it always? Yes, the heart is more
like that, remember. The heart is more like that.
Robert Fanning is the author of five full-length collections of poetry: Cage (forthcoming), Severance, Our Sudden Museum, American Prophet and The Seed Thieves, as well as two chapbooks: Sheet Music and Old Bright Wheel. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, Gulf Coast, The Atlanta Review, Waxwing, THRUSH, The Cortland Review, The Common, and many other journals. He is a Professor of English at Central Michigan University, as well as the Founder/Facilitator of the Wellspring Literary Series in Mt. Pleasant, MI., and the Founder/Director of PEN/INSULA POETRY, a resource for Michigan poets. For more information, visit: http://www.robertfanning.wordpress.com.