You were at the lake water’s edge. It looked to me like you were looking at your reflection. At least, you didn’t move as I stepped down through the pines, didn’t seem to notice I was there. You didn’t see me, right? At first you seemed very peaceful, Lilly-Anne, like a lily of the lake, lotus lily…Lilly-Anne, Los-Angeles…. I want to get it right, like a poem, it’s got to be right…but it felt more like a dream, more fluid and imprecise than a poem…but as beautiful as a good poem, just…dream-like—can a poem be compatible with a dream? Can a poem reflect a dream? It would have to be fluid, I guess, like a rippling reflection in the lake….
Maybe that’s what you were doing: writing a dream poem with your ripply reflection in the lake water. Lilly-Anne the poet of the lake, writing in waves, gentle rippling waves, just barely waves at all, but rippling enough that you’re not sure exactly what you see in the reflection.
It was amazing moonlight, wasn’t it? The whole world—our world, at least, here in the village—was glowing. The world is almost black and white in the moonlight, colors washed out into grays…yeah, that’s it, not just black and white, but grays, gradations of gray…. If I ever publish poetry, maybe I’ll call it “gradations of gray.”
But there was something…. What’d you see, Lilly-Anne?
I couldn’t tell what she was seein’. I couldn’t see it, you know? When you’re lookin’ in the water … when you’re out at the lake, alone, at night – course she wasn’t alone, but she must have thought she was alone – standing still as a statue … she’s lookin’, and I’m lookin’, and you know we’re not seeing the same thing, different perspectives, you know? God knows what she’s lookin’ at, or what she’s seein’ … and I actually thought that to myself at the time: “God knows what she’s seein’” … and that’s when I figured it: all my praying, my call to prayer, the passing out and then seeing Lilly-Anne, mother-to-be, holy mother-to-be, it’s her moment, she thinks she’s alone – we’re never alone, I know it now – and she’s encountering her biggest fear, like everyone has to do in our village…. You know what I think? I think she was lookin’ at the devil. And I think God called me there to witness.
It looked like whatever you saw really had your attention, your full attention, like maybe you were scared, that’s what I thought, like maybe you were too scared to look away, too scared to run away. Were you scared?
She was scared – I could tell that – scared of the devil – aren’t you? Maybe scared of birthing the devil, I don’t know, but that’s a thought: you never know who’s gonna come out of your womb, after all…. I was scared of that. I remember. Scared my baby would be the spittin’ image of my sister, would remind me of my dead sister for the rest of my life, so you know what I did: I looked that fear right in the eyes … but this isn’t about me.
Lilly-Anne, I’ve told you I’m not normally scared, but there was something about that night. I was too scared to look away, too scared to run away.