My Old School

(or The Old Child of the Lake )

 

I had returned to find myself standing still, my skin infinite ears, my bones infinite eyes in the midst of the time waves breaking over each other.

 

That old child me, now in concentrate form infused with lake mist decades old, still standing, looking out across northern water hearing the wild laugh of the loon swathed in the constant fresh blow of the lake.

 

Standing in mid-life where it begins to tip into old age, the grass not yet straw, the sap not yet crystallized,

standing in this confluence of 

teenage self and crone where I had died so many times and come to life 

many more.

 

Where the music-soaked earth fed 

on the spring feet of dancers.  

Looked at itself in paintersí eyes, or roiled in the words of a self-intoxicated actor speaking the poems 

of buried rock and whirling birds, come through the almond-oiled voice of a singer, or through the intricate, quaint plumbing of a gentlemanly bassoon.  Tapped out into hard 

curves by a metal smith, or punctuated into crystalline chords by a smooth-fingered pianist.

 

Humans poignant with their 

numbered days made sure that I came here, stayed for enough seasons to wed my own wild beauty to the good woman inside me and lift the bright, prismatic rock out of the water of my soul for all to see.

 

Now past three decades of shouting down fear, clawing the innocent in 

my sleep while emptying my lungs through a brass vortex of hope, I 

stand here by the Indian-named lake so far beyond the ache of tears, swollen with blessings barely moored to earth, present here and there, I present myself, naked with poems, blind with visions, awed with the 

awful love so catastrophic in its sweetness that this and that fuse like hot glass to create the impossible space of a single thought, nowhere and everywhere at once.

 

She is still here and breathes through me as if I were young again.

 

My friends who met me here long 

ago must receive this precious, word-resistant benediction, for they came to this forest and edge of lapping lake to dance inside themselves in the autumn of our teens.

 

The sideways one-liner of the chickadee scratched my consciousness as I returned to the inside walls and warmed rooms. Sitting on a dowdy couch arranged lake-ward in the student center as unchanged as my grandmotherís house, words gathered everywhere 

but on the thing I wanted to say and roughly formed this shape, the shape of a rain barrel and running in my 

mind with it wide between my arms, I caught what drops I could.

 

My friends shall dip their hands in 

and drink.

 

Goodbye and hello to my landing and departing place.  I leave an aerosol 

of dreams among the spaces 

between pine needles and gold-

singed birches.  Receive my gift in puny exchange for the pure religion 

of being that you gave me.  Hear the sound of my gratitude with your ever- exposed heart as I re-ignite the girl words, the seaweed-haired, blue- knickered, sarcastic-tongued girl who shared wonders with you.

 

Somewhere underneath the ground, by the lakes, despite tree roots and stones, we hold hands forever.  This 

is our deep knowledge.  What seeps up is a tender pooling of simple clarity:

 

We are innocent again.

 

 

Abbie Conant

Oct. 2004

Revised Aug. 14, 2010

Interlochen , Michigan