Lake of the Sky
“I found no place whereon I could stand. I worked a charm upon my own heart.”
“So we get to Tahoe, he says he has a boat.
He doesn’t. His friend has the boat. He made
it sound like his,” she makes careful note.
“Wait, what does he do again?”
“Some start-up in Reno, front-end design.
And there’s seven of us in this dinghy,
this little bowrider, and one ice-chest,
hardly any beer in there for the afternoon
let alone the fireworks.”
“O, how was it?”
“Like I said, I could’ve used more to drink.”
“No, the fireworks.”
“Okay, I guess.”
“That’s what I thought.
I went there last year. It was crowded though.”
“Way too many people,” she gives the word “way”
its own paragraph. “We were basically
parked in the middle of the water, then
the gas runs out, and we get towed
into Cave Rock by the beach watch.”
“He says it’s got to do with the motor,
but I don’t think he knew what it was.
Some people try so hard, they try so hard.”
“That’s a shame. He seemed nice.”
“I know, I was hoping,”
she enlarges her O, rotund and regretful,
and it swallows the memory of him whole.
“O, I know,” the other groans. “You can never tell.”
“They make the beach seem so romantic.”
“Where did you two go?”
“To Kiva,” she says.
Her friend hums along ambiguously,
as if she might know the implication.
“Zephyr was packed, but the trailhead near Fifty
was close, he kept saying, ‘Let’s find somewhere
quiet, I like to lay down and watch them.’
He didn’t want to have to stand,
said there were too many people around.”
“Oh my god,” she says, dragging god along her tongue.
“I know. I’d only had a couple beers.
We met some kids near the creek smoking.
I made nice and got a joint out of it.
He doesn’t smoke, but I needed something.”
“Really? Who doesn’t smoke, even a little bit?”
“He gave me a look, too, a ‘so you’re that kind of girl.’
And you’re the sort of guy who loves fireworks?”
She halts as if approaching some precipice,
heels planted to launch her next words over the cliff:
“That’s a shame. He looked like fun.”
“If you’re ever considering it, don’t.
They make it seem like a good idea,
but the second you’re down there, it’s sand everywhere.”
“Oh, I know. I met this guy last year
at Sundown Festival in Huntington.
He didn’t even want to find somewhere quiet.
The mainstage lit up the shoreline,
you could see all the cigarette butts and
empty baggies, but people didn’t care.
They looked like big sea turtles squatting
over their eggs and tossing sand.
Some of them were waist-deep in the shallows
security wiggling flashlights at them
making sure nobody overdosed and
washed up face down the next morning.
I took off my top but that was all,
and I was still fishing out sand a week later.”
“A towel’s no good either, not when
he’s excavating you with all his weight behind it.
I knew it wasn’t going to be exactly like they said,
but I thought that if we took our time it might be fun,
but the whole time I could see those lights
under Mount Tallac, I thought someone could see us.
All you had to do was look long enough
and see our shadows weren’t moving
exactly like the surf, almost but not exactly.
“He finished on my thigh of all places.
I got up and walked into the lake
and rubbed it off, it felt like bits of jellyfish
in the water, and I’m sure someone saw me
cause I was the only one out there
while the fireworks went off.
I wasn’t sure where my top had gone to,
but I gave the towel a few shakes
and used that like a shawl.
Then I saw this person standing across the way,
standing by himself, all alone,
I knew he must’ve been watching us this whole time,
and do you know what I did? I took off
the towel and flipped my hair over my head
and wrapped it up and let him look at my chest.
I angled toward the light from the fireworks
so he could see it.
I thought, at least someone should get something out of this,
otherwise it all felt like a big waste of time,
at least let someone get the wrong idea.”
Her friend replies with abrasive enthusiasm,
“God, I know.”