Four women have set up chairs by the lake. The wind carries
the tilt of their gossip, the dust of their chain-smoking.
How easily I slip into judging.
The lake, too, is cool, holds thoughts of green things born
and gone. I’m old enough to have outgrown every idea
of normal. How far from a miracle
am I? How far now from the women? I squint and maples
ringing the lake like soldiers become a family holding
hands. I’m swimming toward
a feeling akin to a belt loosening, yet never the end release.
It’s September. The leaves have turned to blood
again. Somewhere behind, women unaware
of their goodness. I never lose them fully to smoke and ash.
I remember. Even among the dying, a boat trip holds
hope: the forward motion, the staring out,
dreaming a destination.