Feature from the Fall issue: Elizabeth Crowell. Family Camp.

2 Aug

FAMILY CAMP

We tell the boys that the lake is there,
where it always is,
but they go out into the slick rain
they have just come through, the farthest,
as it spits on the dark water
to see for themselves.
Down the slippery log stairs,
sneakers sucked in the mud,
arms (one in a sling) hitting the leaves;
they are away from us.

We hear them skip stones,
but at the first hollow of rock
going underneath, someone scolds,
as if we never did that ourselves,
or lifted those rocks up
one of us with a flashlight
meant for emergencies,
another with a net,
to catch crayfish
for bait we would hook,
whole-bodied.

They follow one another back,
their eyes squinting
in the raw cabin light.
They want a fire
which no one will start
on so warm a night
so they stand and look
at the purplish burnt glint of the logs,
up at the glass-eyed moose
over at the map
of the lake’s innards.

Soon they are at the stairs
which have no railing,
clambering up with their small hands
for the next floor as it comes.
In every room, they pull
the string for the unshaded light,
guess the view they cannot see,
pull the drawers built into the walls,
turn the spigots on the sinks each room has
because at the end of the day
everyone washes the lake back out.

Later, the rain has stopped
and a pluck of stars
has come through the trees
and we are out on the porch.
They both lean as far as they can,
too far, over the splintery railing,
and talk to each other as brothers do,
as if no one else is there.

No one says we’re sorry
your father has lost his mind
and you can’t live with him anymore.

When we are finally off to bed,
he, the youngest of the two,
the youngest of us all,
puts the hook in the eye
of the door.

One Response to “Feature from the Fall issue: Elizabeth Crowell. Family Camp.”

  1. vinita18 August 4, 2014 at 04:32 #

    Elizabeth took me on that camping trip…such ingenuity of imagery, such delicate emotions.

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