Lake Wife

by Mary Haidri

I drop the lamp on the porch the night the lake comes
up to the house.

Comet’s tail of flame — shattered glass. A rising smell
of kerosene.

The lake passes through the front door.

Innumerable fish scales buttoned up to her throat.

I follow her inside.


When Sara was alive we took the boat out every weekend.

Before the crash and the hospital.

We traded sips of wine from the bottle,

the lake lapping at our fingertips.


I climb up the stairs after the lake.

Dim light in the bedroom.

The lake rows across the bed and dips her hands into me.

A rushing in my ears. I pour onto the floor.


In the morning the lake sits at the kitchen table.

She turns the wet pages of a book, not looking at me.

I slice oranges on the cutting board and study the blue veins in my wrists.

Streams fed and drained underground.


The lake closes the book. I’ve had enough of drownings, she tells me.

A child’s hand appears in the watery folds of her dress. Vanishes.

Trout throats cut over the water, the lake continues.

Blood haloes around her head in a small arc.

Your wife’s voice in the reeds. I crouch and cover my ears.

The lake opens and closes her mouth silently.


The lake packs a bag and goes traveling.

I go upstairs and nightmare. Sara’s skin grey and pebbly.

The lake in the midwife’s position between my wife’s open knees.

The boat sinks slowly and Sara sings the whole time.


At dawn I walk down the trail to where the lake used to live,

before we roused her. An empty mud basin, full of the dead and gasping.

Something large moves in the reeds.

I kneel among the graves and speak.

Mary Haidri is a library ghost living in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of the play Every Path (La Jolla Playhouse & Moxie Theatre) and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Winter Tangerine, Portland Review, Nightingale, Bird’s Thumb, and Fairy Tale Review. She was the recipient of the 2017 Fairy Tale Review Poetry Award. 
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