|photo credit: h.koppdelaney via photopin cc|
On the lake, under the fog, with blue skies
-Nancy Chen Long
(originally published in the 2012 edition of the Roanoke Review. )
It’s a manmade lake. A causeway cuts through it,
a causeway that rests just above the water.
If a flood should come, the causeway would be covered.
But there is no flood, there’s only you
riding in your silver Festiva, that festival of silver-
colored plastic, only you streaking along in silver,
zipping down the causeway. Then you see fog—frozen,
suspended over the turquoise ice, fog hovering in its crystalline glee,
filigreed tease twinkling twenty feet above the man-
made lake. Startled by this beauty, you slow down, slow down to pray,
pray a benediction for the fog, the beautiful fog.
As you brake and the manmade words
swirl inside your head, you notice a clearing, notice an opening
between the ice and the mist where all is clear. It causes you to pause
on the causeway because there, on the green-blue ice is a dot,
a tawny smudge, a deer caught in the ice, his hind legs trapped
below the ice, his front hooves crossed above in prayer.
How smooth the ice. How still his torso.
How clear, how visible, how still—the ice, the fog, the deer.
Then, he lifts his head. See? He lives. Does he see all around him,
birds, patient black birds stippling the ice, slowly closing in?
And there, up there, other birds, raptors swooping in,
rapt in their descent, their absolution delivered
through the teeth of practicality. You do not run
out onto the thin ice to save the deer.
You, who had paused to pray a benediction,
stand at the edge of the ice and offer a malediction,
a maelstrom of prayers, whimpers for flooding rain.