Today's poem is by Peg Bresnahan


The lake rose to record highs.
Beaches disappeared, limestone bluffs eroded.
Tugs pushed barges loaded with boulders
past our house. Dump trucks paralleled them
on Highways 42 and 57. Giant cranes
and bulldozers shoveled rock into Lake Michigan's
belly, collared the shoreline with riprap.

The lake swallowed, kept climbing.
Rumors accused tough winters, wet springs,
too much messing with the environment.
God's wrath was blamed, and a nebulous person
in charge of the locks up in Sault-Ste-Marie.
Someone joked we needed Moses who'd stretched
out his arm before in a slippery situation.

Then the level started to drop—more each year.
For a while it was perfect—just the way we
thought it should be. It kept retreating.
Shorelines folded back on themselves. Naked piers
grew taller. Harbors only dreamed of boats.
Ducks napped on logs we'd never seen before.

Tourism pounded its thirsty fist. Dredgers
clawed the lake's sandy bottom. Steel jaws
dripped fossils, minnows, tiny crabs.
The water receded until bass and walleye swam
in gulches known only to the skeletons of ships.

Today I walk along a shore, last year under water.
Anemone sprout among cracked zebra mussels,
dried mossy stones. I imagine Israel's
long-ago children—how they stepped
into that split of sea as walls of water roared,

curled above their heads. I picture them stumbling
over surprised fish, the wheels of their carts
and wagons catching on coral, sinking in sediment.
How it would feel to lift an arm and stem the tide.
To change the world.

Copyright © 2014 Peg Bresnahan All rights reserved
from In a Country None of Us Called Home
Press 53
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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