Lake Winnipesaukee

Lake Winnipesaukee

I arrive where I have never been.
Autumn light rises like a lung
above the pebbly shore, falls as small
syllabic waves break over our bare feet.

They sing their icy origin,
return to us a snapped rope
and unseen paths,
consciousness lost
to the wheel,
to the politics of god and food,
to the lonely refrain of survivors,
to the drought and the endless war.

Our sadness matters to the waxwing
like a good updraft when she arrives
at the cliff face in the freezing rain—
things simple are complicated only
by the history of names and of water
once the glacier finds its way.
When the steamer sails backward
what can we see,
what can we taste,
what past shall we breathe,
what gravity holds us in place?

William O’Daly

excerpted from Water Ways, Folded Word Press, 2017