Jeff Ewing: “Crossing Lake Tinn”


Signe was only going to town, hadn’t she told her?
Across the lake, so smooth for once, the wind retreated
into upper branches. She’d be back by lunch, don’t worry.

I’ll be back by lunch, don’t worry. There are no bears,
no wolves any more. No Germans, for that matter.
Why spend such a beautiful day shuttered up inside?

A beautiful day shuttered up inside a house that draws
the heat from you like a leech, that rattles the past
like a snake’s tail over your head, hissing and laughing.

Rattling over the water, the past a snake curled around
the town, the dark cabins along the shore. Her mother
so small running down the bank, straight into the water,

so small, a mouse scrabbling down the bank, calling
and calling—for her daughter on the ferry, pressed
to the rail like her own mother another fine, clear day

smiling at the rail her fine, clear smile that wouldn’t
make the return trip—people swarm to Mie, waist-deep now,
drag her back up the shore, her hands reaching out…

reaching out to take the cup of water from the nurse
and dropping it, turning away. Why is she here,
she wants to know, but what can anyone say to that?

Signe was only going to town, she tells the nurse again,
tells the young doctor. Nowhere very far. Across
the lake, so smooth for once, then back again by lunch.

Jeff Ewing is a writer from Northern California. His poems, stories, and essays have appeared in ZYZZYVA, Willow Springs, Sugar House Review, Crazyhorse, Saint Ann’s Review, Lake Effect, Clockhouse, and Dunes Review, among others.

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