The Lake is Innocent I Tell You


There, a red squirrel. And over here,

a lake - quiet, safe.

No need for it to plead innocent.

Baby mallards - my eyes deserve no better

and madder blooms pink

where once were flashing lights,

an ambulance off its head.

Distraction's doing a fine job.

Lapping water and a frog on a lily pad -

forgetting's two guideposts.


Even thick boughs shut out the night,

that dazzled with pain,

that cut up the turf

with stampeding friends and relatives.

The lake's all living creatures now.

Other than my toes,

there's nothing to drag from its waters.


My lungs expel in gentle puffs.

There's no fear of drowning.

Breeze scatters leaves.

It doesn't knot people together,

crowd them at the edge of yellow tape,

squeeze their chests so tight

that no one can safely scream.


Bubbles break the surface.

Must be a fish.

They can breathe underwater.

They can do what momma tells them.


 John Grey


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Tau, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Naugatuck River Review, Examined Life Journal and Midwest Quarterly.  

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