Tag Archives: Lake Michigan

Just Middle-age and Gratefulness

2015-07-20 Sunset

Every evening after dinner
I walk the tree-lined side street
That leads from my house

I don’t begin the walk at a specific time
Tonight first,
I washed the dishes

Then I started out
With nothing in mind
Just middle-age and gratefulness
And what to do next

Trees and worries and birds and plans
Until the houses ended
And the ball-field began

And like the other evenings
The sky grew big
No houses or trees to block it

The giant sky
One great, low cloud
And below…the sharp, round sun
Burning orange
Then setting behind distant trees

The persons driving cars
East on Ninth
–They missed it

Instead they looked at me
The guy standing at the end of West Broadway
Facing the sun and smiling

In khaki pants and a white undershirt
Like he hadn’t bothered to change
From work

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Grains of Golden Amber – Poem 4 of 30 for National Poetry Month


She’s from the Baltic seaside
Where the green waves
Come from the west, from Sweden

The waves roll in, white-capped
Taller than everyone there
And crash onto the smooth, flat beach

On the wet sand, if you look,
She says you’ll find grains
Of golden amber

She lives here now
Flew here years ago
In search of something

She tells me
She found it
When she found me

Here near the Great Lakefront
Where the gray waves
Come from the east, from Michigan

The swells move in, gray
Taller than no one (usually)
And whoosh onto the pebbly, rough beach

Just under the wet sand, don’t look
You’ll find particles, I say,
Of black coal ash

But on sunny, calm days the Great Lake
Is turquoise-blue and jade-green
And beautiful enough

To remind her
Of Palanga and Sventoji
And her visits with her mom and sisters

Beautiful enough to get her through
The next couple years
Until she takes me with her

Back to the seaside
To be with everyone she loves
At the same time

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The air arrives at the lake shore
From hours of traveling
Over the vast, bright blue
And a million white glints

It swirls the sand
And the hair of a boy
Stooped for a smooth stone
Blue-gray like his sweater

The air flows over
The dirty-white boulders
Where an orange and black butterfly
Flaps, then glides, into the breeze

The air moves through the grass
And the parallel tracks from the mower
Releasing an aroma that’s sweet
Like tobacco from a pipe

It sweeps the cuttings
From an open picnic table
And clears the painted-green top
For my notebook

Like the air knows I’m looking
For an outdoor-desk
And this, with a seat on either side
A choice of what to face:

Dogwood and green leaves
Where a bird
Greenish-yellow and black-masked
Flutters to steal dark berries…

Or the waves, and a single sail
Gray in a shadow
And at the tiller, a red speck
A man steering away

Or, my realization
That for the lake, and the sky, and the trees, and the birds
This weekday is no different
Than those when I was a child

But for me to see it the same
I first need the air
To rush through my mind
And to take with it—what’s there


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A Piece of the Lake


The blue water reached from the windows of the college hall way out to the horizon.  No sailboats as far out as you could see.  Just the blue surface of the water and the lighter blue sky and white clouds.  The evening waves lapped quietly onto the rocks below.

A few miles away the city festival filled the streets with rock music, people, and the smell of brats and hot pretzels.  Everyone smiled, forgetting their problems from the day.  The lake helped with that.  It was there when they rushed from their breakfast, and later when they attended to business, and now when they could visit.  It was there, always.

A young mother bent over a stroller to comfort her baby who cried at the slanting sunshine.  Her boy sneaked toward the water.  He wanted to get something for his sister–a piece of the lake, so she could see how blue it was.

He scooped his bright orange bucket into the shallow waves of swirling brown sand, and was puzzled again that here the lake turned clear.  He lifted it anyway, watching the water slosh from side to side almost spilling over the edges.  In a few steps he looked into her stroller.  “See!  I brought you a piece of the lake!

His sister blinked her blue eyes and looked directly into his, her tiny fingers opening and closing.  The boy dipped his hand into the cool, clear water, then touched his wet fingers to his sister’s.  She smiled and gurgled and lifted her little fist to her mouth.

The boy smiled.  “See!  I brought you a piece of the lake!  This piece isn’t blue, but when you get bigger you’ll see that the whole lake is.  And we’ll play in it together.”

And his sister stretched her arms out to him, and again she smiled and gurgled.

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