Lee Kottner

The Curve of the Earth

You cannot ever truly leave
the land where you grew up.

For me, it was a place of waters
little and big:
a shallow, narrow lake
of dragonflies glittering on the ends of reeds
like a marsh of magic wands,
and water lilies like flowering stepping stones;
and another so large and deep
the undertow might sweep you, lost,
into the middle, the waves smash and drown you
as it did ships of wood and steel,
a lake full of hook-nosed salmon
and prehistoric sturgeon 
pulled thrashing into boats and onto ice,
strong enough to bruise or break your legs,
a lake that was merciless ocean
in all but taste and tide.

A thousand years ago,
this little spring-fed lake was deep and cold,
filled with ferocious pike and quick bass;
a thousand years from now,
it will be a meadow of goldenrod and milkweed,
wild carrot and Indian paintbrush,
and the big lake will have carved a shoreline
I would not recognize
though I understood the remaking.
Now, as I watch
the V of a beaver’s passing
fan across glassine waters from shore to shore
echoed in the V of geese heading north,
hearing the remnants
of last night’s storm in the soft, distant roar
of the big lake,
I realize I will never know
another land better.
Coming back here
for what may be the last time,
I know this:
No matter how far we traverse
the curve of the earth
we are always brought back to where we began,
rooted deep,
looking to the horizon.

 

 

Lee Kottner is a Bronx writer, editor, and the owner of Maelstrom House, an occasional publisher of hand-bound artists books. She earned her B.A. at Chatham University, and an M.A. in English at Michigan State University. Her poetry has appeared in literary journals, anthologies, and a chapbook from Blue Stone Press. Her latest book, Stories from the Ruins, a hand-bound, hardcover chapbook, is part of the permanent collections of both the Museum of Modern Art and the Detroit Institute of Arts. She's currently working on her next poetry collection while teaching at New Jersey City University and SUNY Empire State College.

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