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On the Lake

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

I spent the weekend on New Castle Lake with my parents. I never get tired of this place. Every night the sun set is new and beautiful. There is a great blue heron that hangs out on the peer fishing and guarding. Canada Geese, an unwelcome invasion, litter the far side of the lake while a mother duck swims by with her brood of five in a perfect line behind her. This place is inspiration for relaxing, reading, sleeping, and writing.

Because I was at home for a book signing at Jackson’s landmark independent bookstore Lemuria, conversation often turned to writing.

At lunch on Sunday, my father offered this wisdom, “When you don’t know what to write, WRITE.”

Mom echoed that Hemingway said there is no such thing as writer’s block.

Minka, their friend and priest, said, “I sometimes have to write, ‘Stay, Minka.'”

We all value the time and commitment writing takes.

At church, I was asked by a former high school classmate, “What possessed you to write a book?” I had to laugh out loud at the question. As though to be a writer one must be possessed.

I am possessed by a love of language.
I am possessed by the belief that a teacher of writing should be a writer.
I am possessed by the story, the poem, the words that want to be written.
So, yes, I guess I am possessed.

The great blue heron guards this lake
standing on wrought-iron legs firm and tall
while his blue-grey wings fan the breeze.

Mother mallard leads her paddling through
the canal, picking at the grassy border,
feeding class for the day.

At sunset, I fish with my brother.
His casts are smooth and long,
Mine awkward and clumsy.

Cast on this side
Don’t release your thumb until you swing,
Fishing class on the dockside.

In the distance, a boat anchored with a father and son
creates a silhouette on the horizon.
We cast and draw in silence.

It has taken this long life to learn
fishing is not about catching fish.

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