Poetry by Jael
Lindsay Beach
by jael bietsch

You want to be an island,
sway-rocking on this dock under
sun, over water, pushed-
back against me on my lap.

For the first time in your life, quiet
enough to hear gulls call
to flip-splashing fishes,
enough to hear wake wash against
the strand and its trickle-
pull on colored pebbles and spiral
shells you push into pockets
to count at home, disremembering exact
days and origins. Every memory

one childhood lake.
My grandmother's cabin was green
and white lattice, surrounded by peeling
Birch and water.
I would sprawl
belly-down, small and lake-chilled, pushing
for warmth against the worn-wood dock,
staring down the tea-colored lake
at the yellow bb, dropped
off the end years ago, lake clams
hard and heavy, halves stuck tight
against water, fingers, rocks and knives
pike that hover in my shadow,
hours, disappear, slicing through water,
water-spiders dancing across my reflection,
over water to the other shore
someone's grandsons shout and splash,
smelling distinctively of pine-tar, fish,
wood-smoke from pot-bellied stoves,
and Ivory pushed into small hands by
grandmothers with instructions
to wash in the lake.

Out at the island,
thick with trees, brush and blueberries.
We would fill empty ice-cream pails
in the yellow canoe (see how the paddles
slice the water sideways--only
on the surface water is
something to push against

Against reason, you remember
large berries, warm and sweet,
how we would roll them round our tongues,
eating half before Grandmother covered them
in sugar and milk, small green stems
floating to the top, how we would
balance them on large spoons, scraping
sugar from the bottom of the bowl.

You weren't born yet and you frown,
wishing alive your great-grandmother
and chocolate donuts fried for breakfast,
wishing back her cabin, sold to strangers
in her passing. You never stood
in Maine, pushing up from lake shores
through the soles of your feet, balanced
like a Birch in the shadow of the cabin.
So instead you'll be an island,
off these shores in Illinois, pushing
up from the bottom of the mud-colored lake,
surrounded by someone's grandchildren,
seagulls, shells, me.

But I tell you, as we sway-rock
on this dock over water, pushing
up with my arms against you
where you lean, sun-warm in my lap:
water is nothing to push against.

  • Top
  • Home
  • Links
  • Email
  • Previous Poem Next Poem

    ©: 1995 Jael Bietsch

    This site created and maintained by Off the Page Graphics.
    March 8, 2000