The Lake Will Provide by James R. Gapinski

The supermarket slides into a sinkhole. Our garden fills with rotten, slimy things. Deer and small game are specters. Dad says the lake will provide. The lake is black and deep. Its surface is smooth, like glass. Even on windy days, when the trees creak and bow, the lake is glass. Always glass. We drop fishing lines into the lake. We bring up minnows and tangled seaweed, hardly enough to sustain the baby, let alone the rest of the family. Dad says not to worry. Dad is still confident the lake will provide. We burn our dead and throw their ashes into the lake. The ashes glide across the glass surface. The ashes turn white and sparkle. I think I see Grandma’s face beneath the glass lake, but it’s hard to tell with the blinding ashen sheen. Dad rows to the center and reiterates: the lake will provide; the lake will provide; the lake will provide. We drop our lines. There is a mighty tug, and my small arms are unable to reel in the catch. It pulls even harder, and I stumble to the edge of the boat. The ash lights fade and sink to the bottom. There is another quick tug on my fishing line, and I let it take me. I plunge through the glass. Deeper and deeper. Dad says the lake will provide.

James R. Gapinski is the author of Fruit Rot (Etchings Press), Edge of the Known Bus Line (Etchings Press), and Messiah Tortoise (Red Bird Chapbooks). James teaches for Southern New Hampshire University’s MFA program.

Photo by Chloé Lam