Fresh Water And Salt

Lucia Perillo

When we were young girls and swam naked in Turkey Lake
we were like animals: our legs were thickly furred.
We took the trees’ rustling for a sign of their watching.
Even the limestone drooled from its mouth-cracks.

But then I got real: it was only lake-ledges, dripping—
rainwater, sweat of moss, and dew.
Maybe a man hid behind a birch’s pale skin
and I saw him, once. The rest, my ego running wild.

Still, it’s the roundabout way that I took to the island
that is Indian land, on whose shore I lay down without my shirt. 
This is years from the lake, and the water is salt
when a rockslide clatters off the bluff.

Make the clatter a sign of the watchers come forward—  
in the calm that comes after, I can hear their feet. 
But the trees have long since surrendered their trench coats
and gone back to being simple trees. 

First thought: I’ve grown old, second thought is the cops
but I keep my eyes closed to stall their skirmish
over me. Time clicks like their footsteps as they come close—  
until a musty breath whelms down my face. 

Now hold it there, freeze-frame, while I look up 
at the sun corona-ing a mule deer’s chin. 
Chewing some foxgrass, regarding me only 
because on this wild shore I am strange.