The Boy by the Perfect Lake

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The boy by the perfect lake
Sits right on the very edge
Leaning forward, he is more above the water than he is on the land.
The lake is flawless, a perfect mirror
reflecting the sun,
and the sky,
and the boy.

His finger hovers above the surface of the lake.
He longs to touch it,
feel the water on his skin
and become one with his own reflection
but he doesn’t dare.
The water is too perfect,
and it does not look warm.

He is afraid his worries will weigh him down,
pull him to the bottom,
that his doubts will drown him
or his problems push him in.
Suddenly afraid he turns, looks behind him
but there is no one there.

He almost gets up, stands up,
walks away from the lake
and goes back the way he came.
Instead, he closes his eyes
and remembers.
Remembers all the times he did not act,
all the people he thought he could not comfort,
all the times he thought that there was nothing he could do.
Maybe he was right
but still.

He takes a deep breath-
-and dives,
taking his reflection by the hand.
The water steals the warmth from his lungs
but he is alive.
His troubles are not gone,
but they can only nibble at his toes like fish
as he slips beneath the mirror’s surface.
Only, it is not a mirror now
it is a battlefield.
The boy dives down and ripples break
as the water goes to war around him.
The sun and sky are ruptured,
once safe and secure and out of reach
now by his very act of diving they are torn
like tattoos on broken skin.

The dive is glorious, a perfect ten
but soon the boy learns:
diving is one thing
and swimming quite another.
The boy struggles.
fights for his life,
out there on the lake
so far now from the shore.
Just in time it comes to him
he finds his stroke, hits his stride
strikes out across the water
and is gone.

As for the lake, it is as it was.
Or, almost as it was.
The mirror has been pieced back together as if from broken pieces
but the water remembers the splash that shattered it.
The sun and sky are not so arrogant now,
and while the lake is still perfect
it will never be quite the same.

***

Art by Elena Purlytė at: www.eyesoftrees.wordpress.com

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