The Lake

(An exploration of the way nature can alternately be a place of great joy or a place of terrible sorrow. Written in the aftermath of my colleagues’ death by drowning in a BC Ambulance accident.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            


We swam, danced, laughed in the green green deep,
columns of waterlight warping our pale legs.
And we sang, our voices bouncing over the surface tension, 
skipping the swim ripples.

And we dreamed.

All summer long, we dreamed of the lake.

The frigid falls, and the brisk green pools, mottled with stones, each one a trophy of perfection. And the perfection lay in our transformation, from mammals to nymphs and sprites,
from cold to warm in the perfect shaft of sun,
or by holding a sunbaked rock 
smooth to our soft bellies.

And we were all ages, bleeding with delight, 

our collective veins suffused.

And then,

The dream changed.
And my sleep-heavy arms reached for it,
even as clouds shrouded its face.
Dreamlight darkened the day and spiders of fear
tapped my shoulder.

And when the nightclouds scudded away,
the dream emerged
blacker than black.

And they were there,

so far below our light-warped legs, 

caged and trapped,

Still mammals.
Their lungs filling.

And the green of the lake, blackening.


—Joanna Streetly