Melancholy Hyperbole

Poetry about longing.

Crater Lake

You’ll be scared, my brothers tell me, as I change into my bathing suit.
It looks like a normal lake to me
But as I apply sunscreen to the backs of my thighs
They tell me the lake is actually a crater.
And once I wade out farther than my toes can touch
The water is so clear of murk and debris
That when I look down
It is like I am being suspended in air
Hundreds of feet above the ground.
 
They were right, because I’m afraid I will fall.
I was not prepared, I think,
And I am angry with my brothers who let me swim
But when I think of getting out,
Drying off,
And going home,
I don’t want to.
 
My breathing steadies. I keep my chin high.
The water smells fresh and tastes like nothing.
 
I drift towards the center of the lake
Making the smallest movements to protect the stillness of the surface
And I watch rocks, sunken logs, and algae as I glide by.
The warm sun filters all the way down to the bottom
Where small fish are shocks of silver light.
 
Then, I see a gem surrounded by minnows on the crater floor.
It is red sparkling and as big as my fist.
I reach for it because it looks so close and so valuable
But my head goes underwater and I come up sputtering.
 
The ruby might as well be on the moon.
 
I thought it would be enough to swim.
 
 
Catherine Weiss is a poet and author living in Northampton, MA with a cat, a dog, and a human male. She enjoys losing at monopoly and winning at ping pong. She also edits online literary journal Rogue Particles Magazine. More can be found about Catherine and her work at her website.

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