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by Nathan Lipps

They arrive each summer

at Lake Ontario 

leap out of hot vehicles

their dog chasing behind

as they race to the shore

where fifteen-year old life guards

forbid them from swimming

beyond the buoyed rope

a few yards out.

So they wade 

the water lapping against their thighs.

And all that lake.


Overhead, geese

pushing their wings

against a substance

we confuse with something 

known. If there is deviation 

in their path

I cannot comprehend it.


Perhaps what it should be

were the world flat enough

were we able to move these bodies

without obstacle 

without the need to look back

and correct our course.


We are not permitted to see

what pries waves up from the deep

shoves them across the canvas

what pushes their bodies

against the shore.

Witnessing only their final collapse

we begin to understand 

at least one thing about life.


Is the thing gone

lost in a crashing?

Is there a return?


They will return home

to the house, the adequate mailbox

the backyard chickens.

But for now their dog runs along the shore

barking at the waves

not because they approach

but because they approach again.

About the Author

Nathan Lipps lives in the Midwest where he teaches English courses. His work has been published in the Best New Poets, BOAAT, Colorado Review, Third Coast, Typo, and elsewhere.

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