Each Spring, when the leaves first attempt
to wriggle their way through stiff stubborn
branches, the lost girls float high beneath
the ice of Lake Okawalla.
Their eyes track the skaters--
those pirouetting birdlike figures
in thick woolen mufflers, the daring
ones skirting the thinning spots that gleam
like opals throughout the warming lake.
Rabbits and deer shy from lake's rim.
They've seen the gray, unblinking eyes, heard
the moans in the night, listened to stories
of suicide pacts, stockpiled pills, told and retold.
They lift their heads instead, watch the stars
and moon shiver-dance across the dark sky
until a dawn sleet crowns thorns onto the trees
and tears finally melt rivulets into the crackling ice.
Inspired by a reading of the book,
The Lake of Dead Languages, by