Lake

This entry is part 1 of 15 in the series Ridge and Valley: an exchange of poems

Dear Dave,

The lake is half drained
and now looks like the mud
puddle of some enormous child.
Where water slid away fast, cracks
appear, as does the detritus
of our living. Geese find
the few places fish still swim,
and killdeer have set up home
near the cinderblocks and tires
that once served as nests
of another kind. Tree stumps
line the lakebed, solid despite
their years underwater. I imagine
this grove before any saw cleared it,
before the stream at the far side
was dammed, before this depression
in the earth accepted the weight
we filled it with. A blue jay
in an ash tree sneers at our efforts,
and I smell the harsh smell
of wet earth drying.

Todd Davis

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Todd Davis (webpage) teaches creative writing, environmental studies, and American literature at Penn State University’s Altoona College. He is the author of three books of poetry - The Least of These (Michigan State University Press, 2010), Some Heaven (Michigan State University Press, 2007) and Ripe (Bottom Dog Press, 2002) - one chapbook, Household of Water, Moon, and Snow: The Thoreau Poems (Seven Kitchens Press, 2010), and co-editor of the anthology, Making Poems: 40 Poems with Commentary by the Poets (State University of New York Press, 2010). His poems have been featured on the radio by Garrison Keillor on "The Writer’s Almanac" and by Marion Roach on "The Naturalist’s Datebook," as well as by Ted Kooser in his syndicated newspaper column "American Life in Poetry." In addition to his creative work, Davis is the author or editor of six scholarly books, including Kurt Vonnegut’s Crusade, or How a Postmodern Harlequin Preached a New Kind of Humanism (State University of New York Press, 2006) and Mapping the Ethical Turn: A Reader in Ethics, Culture, and Literary Theory (University Press of Virginia, 2001). His latest book is an edited collection of creative nonfiction by poets writing about basketball.

4 Comments


  1. I saw a “puddle just like this one last weekend, both it and the adjacent woods being cleared for another trophy mansion. Many communities have now become sprawl developments. Our dog Kestrel, a Sheltie, knows better in contrast to some human types.

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  2. I like your series of guest writers, Dave. And this work, in particular, pleases. Clear, non-sentimental but emotive. I like the idea of play gone wrong at the get go.

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  3. The letter as a conversation between poets is perfect for blogging, where it’s simple to click back and forth to understand how the poems have shaped themselves. This one brings to the pond and makes me feel like I know the place, as if it were a mud hole near my own home.

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