Lake Alice Epithalamium

Heather Hamilton

BPR 39 | 2012

The black moon of the alligator's eye
breaks the surface. Around her, top feeders
pop at the air like oil in a skillet
while the rain-poor season unearths a Pompeii
of mud-cast branches, fallen leaves,
and tangled fingers of hydrilla.

Here, noon light and water
etch a chiaroscuro flame-stitch,
broken under the mezzotint of a sudden wind,
and the cattails conceal a darkness
even Goya could not master.
When a heron erupts between them,
its wings — two unfixed parabolas —
flash a semaphore of lilac.

Lake, how you taunt with your artful particulars:
purple spires of water hyacinth clotting the shallows,
a lime-colored skim of bright algae
pulled like a sheet against the bank,
even the alligator, now sunning,
her tail curled into the mud like a saw blade.
In their ruffled beds, pale tongues
of water lettuce rustle in the wind, as if in speech.
Whatever they speak of, it is certainly not love.