Poem for the Lovers at Pickerel Lake
They plunge into one anothers starving mouths
like drawing wild venom from a snakebite.
A hundred yards off shore, there is
nothing beneath them but water.
The sloppy gulping of their tongues unlock
echoes across the empty lake. Every few seconds,
their heads vanish into a wavy ring of ripples,
dip beneath the surface like flooded sponges.
I envision them plummeting through the darkness
in silence, water growing colder with each inch.
I imagine the moment when panic sets in.
Their arms and legs begin thrashing against gravity,
pigeons kicked from a rooftop. I wonder which
one decides when enough is enough, lets go
of the others hand, begins the long pedal
upwards towards the light. After a few moments,
they return to the surface choking with laughter,
murky lake water sputtering from their noses.
From my lawn chair on the beach, I cannot help
but think of how little they must know
of gravity; its dodgy, dumb logic ruthless
as stray lightning. I think how in this year
alone Ive watched it tease a 16-year-old student
into thinking her body was too big to drag to school,
whisper one friend onto the guard rail of the
George Washington Bridge, sail another through
24 stories of midnight onto a piss-soaked
New York City sidewalk. Still, there is nothing
I can yell across this lake to warn these lovers
of what will work against them should they breathe
too deep, laugh too hard, kiss too long,
sink just an inch too far below the surface,
fill their mouths a bit too full with one another.
I watch in nervous awe, nostalgic for what
it feels like to be so young; armor thick as melon
rind, wings the span of the Manhattan Bridge, without
the petrifying fear of losing the people you love.
I offer a few quiet words under my breath.
Wish them courage in their discovery of the inevitable:
nothing stays weightless forever. For a few
peaceful seconds, they float on their backs like
plastic fishing bobbers, prepare for one last plummet
into the glassy black below. Latched into a tight vacuum,
their mouths spill with answers and there is no
safer place to keep them. They sink lower and lower
until finally, without a sound, they are gone.