Language

by Ceridwen Hall

There’s an island in the middle of a lake.

During summer, boats go back and forth.
People bring dogs and bicycles. They circle
the island, walk the beaches, explore pockets
of inland forest, and its tiny history museum
with eels preserved in jars, grainy photographs.

Sometimes they have to wait for a ferry to take
them back to the mainland. They get icecream,
sit on a cliff, and watch the water hit the rocks.

In winter, once the ice is solid, if the tires are rugged
enough, one can drive right across the lake, deliver
supplies or collect firewood. One might even walk,
on a carefully flagged path, over the frozen surface.

But there are weeks before spring while the ice thaws
and cracks. It doesn’t melt immediately, might freeze
again overnight. There’s no driving over, no boating.
One stands on the shore, tries to see across.