Trivium

I

It was here that I found
myself – as much as
one teenager can

It was here that I
tallied a notable string
of personal firsts,
nails hammered
logs split
fish caught
girl loved
cars driven
stick shift, mastered
full beer drunk
jukebox played
girl kissed

Held her hand, first

Pristine milieu for my
development
woodland womb the
summer I was six til the
summer I was
eighteen –

personal
Enlightenment
reasoned, resonant

individual philosophy
innately seeded
naturally cultivated

more Spinoza
than Descartes

relying ever on
the observable
self-trained as such

Warm solstices
aggrandized my youth

This is where I learned
to grasp Thoreau
years before reading him

an inquisitive, pint-sized
Audubon-by-osmosis
whatever flew, crawled,
hopped
reflected the sun
echoed through woodlands

entranced me

II

This is where I
learned the skills
still serving me the most, best

freedom, autonomy
appreciation of their limits
love, curiosity
without reservation, regard
hearing nature’s call
finding personal refuge
transformative magic

of the woods, on foot or
in being on the water

contemplation, reflection,
reverence. Peace.

Inner and outer.

Self-taught
while others tutored
by my teens I had well earned
Ph.D. in me

Coming to my senses still
sounds of dry leaves
underfoot
feels of bare feet on
warm sand
tastes of falling rain
looks like misty sunrises
filtered through
towering pines

Tranquilizing spirituality:
effects
of lake-bottom sand
oozing up between toughened toes

meditative trill of loons
calling
exhilarating rhythm of surprised
sunfish
flopping on boat floor

falling asleep to gentle, swishing
drum-brush cadence of small
waves on lakeshore

sweetly-scented breezes
sifted through
wire-mesh screened windows

there was hard wisdom
to be earned in
every harsh, shrill grind of
missing gears
learning to drive a pickup

sawing a board crookedly
once
missing the nail but not
thumb with
awkwardly swung hammer

the mangling, tangling of new
fishing line

falling to dirt road off the
back of a truck
spilling a can of paint
digging the wrong hole

stinging futility in trying to
chop wood
with a dull axe

There was great wonder in
small creatures
scampering loudly unseen
through leaves, up trees
gentle thud of
pinecones, butternuts, even
acorns
falling to birth

onto moss-carpeted
forest floor

joyous splash of a bass
jumping
loons, pelicans diving
croaking toads, grunting frogs
sing-song crickets
chattering chipmunks
full orchestral variance
of birds

Your own footsteps
on gravel road

Getting drunk holds little
allure for one who knows well
intoxicating pull of

fragrant wildflowers, wild raspberries
carried on July breezes
musty aura of lakeshore algae, mud
freshly dug nightcrawlers
exhaust from
sputtering outboard boat motors
charred birch logs in
dormant wood stoves

earthy, overflow-foam from
freshly-opened
bottle of beer

Pines, at night.

It was here that I
found myself, return to still
when lost
no matter where I am

III

The Lake

Grandparent’s home where
every summer
I spent my days learning life via
languages, dialects
of others

plumbers, and painters
lumberjacks, and carpenters
storytellers, and lovers
immigrants, all
far off lands, languages
smoothly blended with
richer, more colorful English

quirky, vernacular nuances
my elders takes on
nature, fate, faith

with applications practical,
trivial
memorable
wisdom-soaked
absorbed by me with relish

Summers at The Lake

taught me what I needed then
still use
understanding complexity of
simple things
basic truths in the complex

still lessening fears
still helping me grasp that at
the heart of each failure
is cultivated, harvested wisdom
deep understanding that grew wild
in me
my summers at

The Lake.

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2019
http://lrd.to/sxh9jntSbd

The package

My mom found the dead chipmunk
I had brought home from the lake.

It was the end of the summer I was ten;
the stripe-tailed rodent had come home
at peace in a blue and black JC Penney
shoebox I said contained ‘stuff.’

He sure looked stuffed.

A car – or maybe Ivar’s Jeep – had run
him over on the driveway leading up to
Ivar and Lila’s house; caught him from
behind as he was running, flattened
his little chipmunk carcass out like a
bearskin run fit for the floor in front of
Barbie & Ken’s Alpine Chalet fireplace.

Absolutely flat, cookie-cutter perfect,
spread-eagle chipmunk silhouette.

I moved him with a stick to the cement
fringe of the garage slab and the sun
used July to tan his little hide

By the time my summer fling at the lake
had drawn to a close he was tanned stiff,
had no odor, was slipped into the box,
transported home in our big blue Plymouth
Fury dad had no idea was really a hearse
then got stuffed under my mausoleum bed,
forgotten about until mom’s cleaning binge
She called the Gilberg’s house, where I was
playing, ordering me to come right home
Mrs. Gilberg stifled a laugh as I left;
‘laughed long and hard’ she told me, many
years after, once I had gone out her door.

My mother had told her of the cleaning,
and of her dislike of urban paleontology.

I caught all sorts of hell when I got home
that day, but at least I never got my hide
tanned, and shoved into a box under a bed.