The sun sinks low, lighting the lake’s blue-green
ooze that gleams like a filthy jewel. Algal blooms.
You read about them in the news. Your eyes snagged
on the phrases Fish die-offs. Dead zones. You learned
it was impossible to tell which blooms were harmful
without a microscope, and even then you’d need an eye
trained to detect toxicity. What was his name? The boy
who died recently from E. coli poisoning after swimming
in Wolf Lake. Agricultural runoff. A warming environment.
On the night of his funeral, the boy’s father got drunk
and shot all the cows from a nearby farm before
turning the gun on himself. You feel something
soft and waterlogged under your foot; a wraith-like
creature with a delicately coiled tail; an angel;
a bloated tampon. You’re so tired. Lie down among
the rain-wrecked T-shirts, the odd Trojan wrapper.
Go on — I won’t tell.
Emily Skov-Nielsen is a poet from Saint John, New Brunswick. She is the author of The Knowing Animals (Brick Books).