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01 April 2015

Keuka Lake


I remember those orange trees,
lakeside, catching the breeze.
Chilling, with unease.

I remember that cold, slick water,
swimming with my father.
He said, "No otter."


I came across the above image this morning, and was reminded of the lakes I grew up near. Specifically, I thought of Keuka Lake, into which (it was rumored) the local hospital dumped its waste. The appeal of swimming in the lake faded pretty quickly as I grew up and became aware of things like "toxic" and "waste". Keuka Lake was surrounded by houses, but if it hadn't been, it would have looked a lot like that image.


For the real toads' benefit: during the four years I lived near Keuka Lake, I began writing poetry. It was the time in my life that stands out most as the time I began thinking about things outside of a child's simple world.

Our challenge, from the lovely Magaly, was this:

Your poetic mission, if you choose to accept it, is to write a new poem inspired by the first poem, poet or written work that sparked your poetry.
I didn't have much poetic influence at that stage. I didn't start reading any - that I can still recall - until much later in life. I didn't feel influenced by others' poetry until after I started writing my own. I just didn't get it until then. But things like Keuka Lake caused me to think more deeply, and my father's love of words and word games has influenced me deeply, for longer than I can still remember.

So, these are my beginnings. 


  1. How sad to think of a beautiful lake being rendered un-swimmable and otterless.

  2. Your poem is 'chilling, with unease' !
    How sad~

  3. So pretty... such a shame.

  4. I'm with these ladies on the sad breaks my heart the way Nature is treated. I love your memories of the lake and of your father. Beautiful image!

  5. It is terrible when a lake is turned into fear by lack of responsibility and too much selfishness. I can see the poetry coming out of your child's upturned lips, seeping through your shaking fists (squeezed too tight)... I would have been angry, and terribly sad.

  6. Same in the lake where I grew up - back then it was still pretty clean but not any more.........I love your dad saying "No otter!" and that his wordplay resonated with you.

  7. How desperate we become when even water dies. I am so glad the lake birthed poetry.

  8. poetry bones take time to grow and strengthen. well penned ~

  9. Really nice. I think we have some new otters around here!

  10. Lovely beginnings — and a beautiful poem. complete in its brevity.