Surfacing

by Kateri Kosek

When copyediting the small-town monthly, things press in.

Chair yoga. Croquet. Bears that pull laundry off clotheslines.

Someone following GPS drives onto the dam,
slips off the narrow bridge.

Someone unscrews his neighbor’s porch light, gets caught on surveillance.
He said the light was annoying at night but promised to stop doing it.

(Why live here, if you can’t see the stars?)

Fire alarms.

Unattended fires.

Every month more news of the lake’s battle with Eurasian milfoil—
who will come to study it, to harvest it, to keep the lake from clogging up.
How to keep it from fragmenting, spreading.

(I don’t know Eurasian milfoil from the next lake weed
but I’ve given up worrying about them.
I swim on the surface, don’t put my feet down.)

I learn:  the cereus plant, a desert native, blooms just one night a year
and has an exquisite scent.

Spider wasps encase their prey in mud; their larvae
eat spiders for a week then spin a silk cocoon to spend the winter in.

Petrichor is a husband-wife duo who will be exploring the sound world
of the musical instrument digital interface.

More importantly, it’s the word for the smell of the forest just after it rains.

The school is closing (hardly any school-age children!).
The historical house is holding a swanky fundraiser.
Guests will have a marvelous time while enjoying the stunning poolside views.

Unless they’re in the middle of a fight. If before they get there,
doors are slammed. If she threatens to not go.
If he’d rather be standing chest-high and alone in Lake Garamoor, watching
the milfoil close in around him.

Fragmenting, spreading.

Most of the time, no fire.

I look up petrichor. A pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain
after a long period of warm, dry weather.

These decrees of certain pleasure!

Someone fell asleep on Main Street, went through the guard rails.
Someone’s husband was missing, then found.
There are cows on the loose. Not once, but twice, in the same place!

These are the things people want to read, the editor interjects, and it’s true.
The rest I can read unthinking, with half a brain, looking only for mistakes;
in bars with music blasting, skimming a sea of words without sinking in.

Fresh rain fallen on dry earth.
A distinctive scent, usually described as earthy, pleasant, or sweet.

That which quenches, which sets the course.
A town we don’t quite live in.

A thing to bloom in the cocoon of winter, a thing to keep us
from drowning.

_________________

Kateri Kosek is a poet and essayist whose work has appeared in such journals as Orion, Catamaran, Terrain, and Northern Woodlands magazine. She has recently won contests at Creative Nonfiction and Briar Cliff Review. She teaches college English and mentors in the MFA program at Western CT State University, where she received an MFA. Kateri has been a resident at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in Nebraska. She lives in western Massachusetts.

Illustration by Courtney Bennett

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