We put up the tents in a thicket of pine and cedar on a ridge overlooking the cove. The site was secluded and quiet, but later we drove to the beach, with its hot sand and crowds. In the white platinum heat of a cloudless summer sky, a feast of tanned, tattooed flesh jiggled its way down the beach to the cool sanctuary of the lake. A stereo blasted stale rock music among the endless growls of jet skis that moved between the water and sky, both as blue as aluminum cans of light domestic beer. A guy in swimming trunks crouches on his beach towel and takes a quick hit of weed from a pipe before running back down to the water. The scent of marijuana drifts through the lakeside cottonwoods like the hipster spirit of summer.
MY DAUGHTER TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS
Summer’s first days are rainy and cool. The frequent downpours have soaked in red earth and filled dry beds of long-quiet creeks. My oldest daughter and I drive along the shiny highway in the dusk after a rainstorm. A thick rope of grey fog slides over the pastures like a snake, blurs the pine thickets that the surrounding low hills wear like pagan crowns.
This child, in her final summer of preteen innocence, takes photographs of the fog and the orange and pink neons of the day’s last light. She’s saving moments that would have been forgotten otherwise, evaporated into the firmament. I watch her using a complex device to preserve some natural beauty, this child that I witnessed be birthed so suddenly into this world. And I am completely in awe.
How did it come to this?
How was a responsible for such perfection?
Maybe I wasn’t.
Maybe we just breathe life into these magnificent things formed of our blood and bone, before releasing them like a fortunate trout into the confines of a river, swift and swollen with rain.
I look away from her and back to the road ahead, darkening with nightfall. The current hasn’t borne her
too far downstream yet- she’ll be here beside me
for a while longer.
Nicholas Trandahl is a poet, newspaper reporter, and Army veteran that lives in Wyoming with his wife and three daughters. His simple and honest verse is influenced by the writing of Raymond Carver, Ted Kooser, Jim Harrison, and Ernest Hemingway.
Trandahl is published by Winter Goose Publishing with two collections, Pulling Words and Think of Me, on shelves now and his third collection, Bravery, releasing in spring 2019. His was also a featured poet in the poetry compilation Heart of Courage, which was published by Swyers Publishing.