So this is the lake? I said.
Sure is, pal, said the officer,
flashlight on his features.
He had a handlebar mustache;
we were in America, after all,
deep in Washington State
where my large boyfriend
drowned in the lake. By now it lay
dark, silent, thick in the night,
and harmless as a babe.
But I knew what it was capable of.
Its vastness was youth embodied, yes,
and from it emanated
an aura of grave danger.
My large boyfriend. Let me say
I mean that quite literally.
He was bigger than life itself;
he moved as a demon
among men. His beauty turned heads.
And as all demigods come,
he came here to face
the final threshold, which was also
his faith, his sex, his childhood,
and his race. Overcame him then
the great serenity of foresight.
He filled his pockets with stones.
He did not struggle
against what was inevitable
and around him curled
the tall pines of old country,
their fragrance and intelligence.
So dark, it was, so late.
I stand here where the officer left me
centuries ago. His monument at the lake.
I see it now for what it is:
the alternate future you offered me,
replete with visions of a secret past,
is dashed, the figure of Beauty
skips across the scene. Uh-huh.
She’s only the Deputy Sheriff anyhow
and people always float through this town,
taking their leave at haunted hours
which moon me with strange currencies.
To that I say, Farewell, old friends!
I love you all. From your newlywed eyes
to your tiny feet — Godspeed.
And to you, Harry, first and last,
Bon voyage! Adieu, adieu!
Love’s a tricky ghost, I know
it never really gave me you.
Listen to Jackson McCarthy read ‘The Lake’
Listen to Jackson McCarthy read ‘Goodbye blazon’
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jackson McCarthy is a poet and musician from Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland currently studying in Te Whanganui-a-Tara | Wellington. He is of mixed Māori and Lebanese descent. He was a finalist for the Schools Poetry Award 2021, and was recently one of the Starling Micro-Residents at the New Zealand Young Writers Festival 2023. You can read more of his work at linktr.ee/jacksonmccarthy.