The Weight by Sheila Packa
At Knife River Beach, in heat and smoke,
I watch the blue fire of Lake Superior
the way water burns into light
the island where the gulls bask and lift
the long-distance wind carrying their cries.
Children on the beach
submerge to their knees, fold their arms
like landing birds.
Drought rattles the leaves.
The children laugh and scream in delight
dive like ducks
and fish as clouds thicken
over the wildfire.
The shore’s edge is restless
overestimates, falls short and then gains.
A billion years, these stones rolled.
Farther north, ash falls like snow.
Weight falls under the surface
of the lake where gods
haul the deep swells. Teams of workhorses
harness to this rolling weight
don’t break at the task
bring in all they can carry.