Lake Win­nipeg

Prairie Fire - - HANNAH GREEN -

“this has hap­pened be­fore / it will hap­pen again.”

— David Ar­na­son, Marsh Burn­ing


Lake Win­nipeg, I know you are sick, but congratulations—

you’re also fa­mous. Even Na­tional Geo­graphic wants your au­to­graph.

It’s the Sun­day night of Ice­landic Fes­ti­val,

and I have a feel­ing that I don’t be­long, that the lo­cals

want me to get out. They are sick of the hot­dog carts.

You al­ways hated how they looked—lined up on Main.

I re­mem­ber when I was with you, I was lo­cal by proxy,

and I wanted the tourists to get out too.

I am here be­cause of the way David Ar­na­son wrote the lake.

Some­times there is no event. I am only in the wa­ter, drown­ing.

I am here for one night in the Lake­side Ho­tel; I am here

to fin­ish what Ar­na­son started.

We parked by the beach at night, your head­lights il­lu­mi­nat­ing

the wa­ter; your head on my shoul­der. The car cov­ered in fish­flies,

iri­des­cent wings shim­mer­ing on the wind­shield. You ex­plained

your leav­ing / but I don’t re­mem­ber the words / only that your voice

and the lapping of the wa­ter were the same.

On a plaque in the Gimli Mu­seum I read about the per­se­ver­ance

of the colonists. I don’t see this his­tory in the plas­tic Vik­ing hel­mets

for sale. I find no trace of the peo­ple who lived around the lake.

I’m in­va­sive as the ze­bra mus­sels—squint­ing at the faded mu­rals

on the pier, sleep­ing in my rented bed. Some species have been here

so long we for­get they are in­va­sive. It has been so long, I for­get

the pills I take are not re­ally a part of me. I am not my­self to­day

I am not my­self. If we let some­thing in and it stays long enough—

it will change us. I let you in and now look at me.

And look across the lake—Grand Beach, where two chil­dren

drowned this sum­mer. I’ve been googling ‘Lake Win­nipeg

deaths’ ever since. I am look­ing for rea­son. The mother, in­ter­viewed

on CBC, said it isn’t grief. / It isn’t any­thing.

The al­gae is as green as I was the first time I saw you

with some­one else; the al­gae isn’t leav­ing. I thought you would

come back to me; we thought the lake would get bet­ter.

I have noth­ing to write. Ar­na­son, how did you do it?

The lake is not lis­ten­ing, or per­haps will not an­swer.

I sit in Robin’s Donuts un­til mid­night and re­turn to my room

at the Lake­side. Noth­ing else is open in this town.

This is the same ho­tel where we had sex in a bath­room

on the third floor; I try to find that bath­room now but I can’t.

I’ve lost the di­rec­tion, or the de­sire. Say it and make it hap­pen.

An at­ten­dant asks if I’m lost and I don’t know how to say what I am

look­ing for; there is no way to ex­plain how lost I am.

The har­bour is dark and I stare out against it, will­ing

some­thing to ap­pear. It is the hold the mind takes on things.

I squint into the his­tory of the lake, try­ing to fin­ish

what Ar­na­son started. But I don’t see an exit.

I can’t seem to find a way out.

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