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The Woman Beside The Lake Is Reading

Susan Glickman
From:   Vintage 1999: Poems from The National Poetry Contest & The Canadian Youth Poetry Competition. Vancouver: Ronsdale Press, 1999.


The woman beside the lake
is reading; is trying to read
the same page of the same book
she has been trying to read
all week beside the same lake.

The rhythm of summer lulls her--
the indolent rhythm of water
the lake with its thousand bodies
singing, dancing,
below the threshold of perception
so that the mind slows
and the words on the page
drift away, inconsequential
despite their freight of grief.

All summer she has been reading novels
and in novels this summer children suffer
acutely and often
and in ingenious ways.

Her heart is grey and tearful.
Her heart is a lake, its thousand bodies
dancing below the threshold of perception.

At the edge of the lake her own children play.
They are always busy. Right now
they are constructing dwellings for the creatures of the lake
involving sand and stones and blackberries
and complicated systems of irrigation.
No one has hurt them too badly yet
she thinks, unless all this building
is a form of sublimation, a novel without words
depicting various forms of suffering
in ingenious ways.

The woman beside the lake is reading
has been trying to read all week

the book
                the lake
                              the children.



Susan Glickman's works copyright © to the author.


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