Above the water, the still lake shivers shadows of cormorants that perch on the concrete pilings. There is a city underneath the surface of the lake that has been forgotten. Years ago, the mill closed down. There weren’t any jobs. They were given $50 bucks to leave, but they had to get out fast.

The woman on the shore wants a map that can transform the water back into the city it once was. All day the trees will push shade out towards the birds. A battle of darkness. A shadow can only be what it reflects upon. She thinks about hers and the waves, the watery passage that pushes at her form. She wishes for a wooden boat and a clear day free of wind to follow the fingers of trees, to float above the stillborn houses that blink up like dioramas of a story she never knew. She imagines the blossom of torn curtains. A table still set and waiting. The story of home. But she doesn’t have boat, or a map, just a patchwork of stories sewn thick into her ear, and her dark shadow growing towards the center of the lake.

Iris Jamahl Dunkle received her M.F.A. from New York University. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Case Western Reserve University. Her work has appeared in Cleveland in Prose and Poetry, Fence, Squaw Valley Review, and Washington Square. She's been teaching creative writing in both University and community environments for the past eight years. (ijd3@case.edu)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761