by Susan S. Keiser
No one thought to question this,
that Tom would skip start off the dock
at 2 am, overserved and belligerent.
"You need new friends," Jill told him,
concerned about water safety.
Was it their first date? I think so;
he would have thought it a dare.
Did I mention moonlessness?
Makeshift slalom with a dropped ski?
Jack skippered the cigarette boat
with bat-like accuracy that night,
eyes closed, for all we knew.
How you spun Two Princes in my
brain that hot Wisconsin summer;
B-15 on the old jukebox at Morton's.
Sweet, if not quite comparable to
Paradise by the Dashboard Light:
that legend lives on, some say.
A. I didn't need to 'know right now',
nor did I hope to champion the world,
then/later, in mercurial requiem.
B. A minor point, but I always meant to
apologize for teaching you Macarena,
and for the endless salsa evenings.
Stealthy magic leapt like quicksilver,
bluegill flashing in mill pond shallows.
Watery stories hardened to durable lore.
We even built a family on it, briefly.
A. Yes, we did burn down the dock on the
Fourth of July: it was a freak accident.
B. Sheila always said that Eddie looked
taller standing on his wallet. True.
C. No Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.
(It was the 90's; people exaggerated.)
When the lake magic evaporated we all
either married or divorced; some did both.
Sonar Jack held out the longest, last man
on the dock when the spells ran dry.
Stories arrive predictably post-season.
My water-under-the-bridge reckoning
would be years in the making, characters
emerging ghost-like on the dock, though
mouthy with opinions. They have shiny
new names but old faces.
Only faithful Max would cross the tale's
blood-brain barrier intact, as an older
Black Lab sometimes will, out of innate
loyalty or from long-ingrained habit.
The narrative cannot yet declare itself
fact or fiction, but it's a hard water story.
Given plot, characters, and point of view,
I'd have to say my money's on the Lab.
I've written in rabbits; a memory of Max
chases them in cornfields while I work.