Into the Lake

Penny Harter

Gone now the fading pink plastic
drinking cup, slowly degrading at
the bottom of Lake Hopatcong,

the very cup Nana had used, the one
that lived on a wooden shelf below the
mirror above the pitted bathroom sink.

The cup was atop a laden paper bag,
and I accidentally knocked it from the raft
taking us and my newly grieving Poppy

to an island where the family cottage
roosted among dark pines. I lost the cup
overboard, and Poppy screamed.

His anguish echoes even now, a glissando
running up and down the keys of the
out-of-tune upright piano that sat in

the parlor of his brown-shingled house
on a tree-lined suburban street.
And in the house’s ample pantry,

another pitted porcelain sink, and the
lingering scent of almost burnt toast
redeemed by cinnamon and liberal sugar.

Once, my husband and I revisited
that past. I mounted the peeling steps
to knock on the door, then peered into

the living-room window looking for Nana
and Poppy, for my mother, and for
the stained-glass window blessing the

landing at the foot of the stairs. Thank
God it was still there, still prisming sunlight
into radiant dust, but the rest had long gone

one-by-one into the lake, settling like years
of layered silt, though sometimes rising
to cloud the reedy bottom.

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poetry, music, visual art