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A Stave for Lake George


A stave, a musical staff, lifted edge by edge,

            becomes a net that burgeons.


Its haul, the clustered catch aflap, iridescent,

            each Northern Waterthrush re-casts to song.


Verses, a stanza, caught in a child’s hands,

            firefly released, dark, light, a poem.


Rung of a ladder, chair, Adirondack, angled

            toward lakeside dusk; day reels in reverie.


Strips of wood, barrel bent, curved for tubs, casks,

            hulls, the stave launches wood to craft.


And sometimes, sometimes, the staff turns ashplant,

            walking stick, whittled rod of hackberry,


maple, fishing pole, cudgel of care to clear what threatens:

            Zebra Mussel, mystery snail, Asian clam, Spiny Water Flea;


what suffocates: mat of milfoil, pondweed, lakefoggers,

            that dim and dim and dim.


To stave off dark we cast light:

            hurricane lamp, masthead, lighthouse.


Nightlights shimmer cove to cove,

            Lake George’s waves, anglers, land small lights.


Gleaning trails behind the lure, the catch of understanding,

            the loon calls from Mossy Point to Treasure Cove;


its longing staves off our own. Listen:

            The stave becomes the oar.




Oars in Water


Dory stowed with field glasses, thermos of coffee,

Grandad’s wicker creel, cuts of bread and New York cheddar.

We’ve duffel-stashed a summer here beside the pail we heft

to bail our worries. Oars we’ve renamed Saturday, Sunday. 

We favor them each morning. To lose one day of this eternity

(the wind across Lake George), too heavy for my small pail,

the thought. I look up. Sails of neighbors stretch. 

A bowrider churns a wake; paddlers wave from kayak quiet.

Jacques and Madeleine shout from paddleboards. The work 

some call preserving, a reckoning: anchor, keel, trailer wheel.

A compass bids me on. It’s time. It's time to dip and pull the oars.



Swim, Then


I could wish all morning

I have the tools, the time,

but until I put my feet in it

how will I know the water's fine?




So Long Evasive Invasives

                                                                        for young Lake George naturalists

Eurasian Watermilfoil


Feathery fishtrapper—anchor wrapper—

pretty name—for an overgrown weed.


Asian Clam


Will clog, clog,

                                    clog your boat.

Oh it can clog,

                                    but it can’t dance.


Zebra Mussel


Striped Hoover.

Too much muscle.

Not enough zoo!


Curly-leaf Pondweed


Inedible! Incredible!

You look like lasagne, 

but you stink on a plate.

Pondweed, pondweed:

don't gobble our lake.


Oriental Mystery Snail


Six whorls

on the shell

too many whorls

too many shells

too many snails

            spoil the stew.


Spiny Water Flea


Neither insect nor flea

(you don’t like dogs).

Spiny Water Flea:

Quit bugging me!



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