“In the water I am beautiful.” –Kurt Vonnegut


At the lake edge, I am a pilgrim, humble, awkward, almost naked.
I step on rocks, cringing forward, top heavy on bone stilts
Entering, absorbing by inches the inhospitable chill
till the short gasp of getting the shoulders underwater.

With an expansive stroke forward I weigh 30 pounds and I can fly. I possess the wisdom of otters.

I hold myself above the earth, my arms, slow-beating wings.

The perfect hug of water, denser than oil, cool as shadows, absorbs me and every whirring, buzzing problem of the day is gone.

My eyes just above the surface, the subtle plashing mirror shows a downwards liquid earth of sloshing trees, sliding hills, and rippling mountains.

Incapable of error, water sings the real tao
it welcomes your joy
it welcomes your expression of slide and float,
of undulate and wave

I am buoyant, spread-eagle human driftwood, eyes closed with a red landscape glowing on my eyelids.
The lake smells like the top of a babies head, like the bed where your beloved slept;
like the iron in blood;
like dusty ozone on the wind before the thunder.

Afterward, the afterglow, lying in the hot sun on the grass
as happy as a tired dog
and blinking up at the shivering aspen
glittering in the blue sky


Hugh Miller