F. Daniel Rzicznek
Reading time: Approximately 5 minutes
"Lake Reality" originally appeared in Issue 15 of Tahoma Literary Review. This work developed very slowly for me, with a gradual feeling of being in a place and time that was very familiar. As if I was sitting next to large window watching the rain come down, each drop both different and the same. I kept returning to Rzicznek's atmospheric work with its soft voice and I hope you will, as well.
A freezing man toward the bow.
Beside me, toward stern, another
freezing in a tattered rainsuit.
A hard spray peppers our faces
while the fogs approach, steady,
curious as domesticated mammals,
accustomed to delivering visions.
Home, certainly, to bank swallows
hunting flies above the waves,
threading the green of the trees
while the wind wheels north
and late spring clouds pile up
more vivid than any hallucination.
This is the lake and we freeze,
this lake always and always moving,
the flooded depths below, still still.
Once a valley, now a lake, this lake’s
enough to keep the bait-house lit,
grackles scheming for minnows
above a minnow tank left unlatched.
We see the rain a mile off
between gears of cloud and sun,
watch its drab tongues advance.
Mist escapes the horizon,
erasing horizon as it escapes.
Wind, at play, plows our faces
into wrinkles like wax cooling,
flashes of white inside the fog.
The sunken roadbed’s sepia murk,
the watery sky above a ruin of farms,
no other world quite like this.
We head home. We curse the rain.
The rain weaves its cloak, draws
it over us. Nothing philosophical
here. Woolly strands of vapor
press a radius of droplets down.
The swallows arc after bugs across
wave-troughs strafed by rain.
The two wooded islands shudder
facing the gale. What a time
to be in a boat, living ghost minutes
of a self that rose in the darkness,
made water hot with electricity,
let the dog out and put him back,
made faith from the meaningless:
how blue sky becomes stinging rain,
becomes the mist, becomes how
precariously the waves are arrayed.
reprinted with the permission of the poet
F. Daniel Rzicznek has this to say about "Lake Reality":
"Lake Reality" stems from an experience I had while fishing with my father and a family friend. A series of rainstorms caught us by surprise, and the resulting afternoon was surreal and uncomfortable in how we were reminded of our smallness and frailty. I wrote the poem with the larger landscape in mind (the sky above the lake, the water and history below, the area surrounding) as a way of highlighting the smallness of the human condition within the immensity of Earthly reality. The title comes from a sign misread on the drive home that day: Lake Realty.
F. Daniel Rzicznek’s newest collection of poetry is Settlers, (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press), and he teaches writing at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.