Describe a Lake (2008)

The water is dark and cold and unbelievably smooth. Upside down, clouds take turns to blow past a fat moon. There is seemingly a depth to these reflections, as if each cloud could be plucked from the lake like a carrot from soil.

The moon rises a little as I watch its twin sister and it loses some of its yellow tint. A sound distracts me, some small woodland creature near the edge of the lake, and I notice the only movement of the water – a gentle lapping, with peaks so small they could hardly be described as waves. I follow these peaks with my eyes, away from the shore until even this small motion is absorbed by an uncanny stillness.

It’s cold now. I shiver and stand, spotting a stone that I consider throwing into the water, but this is too violent an act for a night that has already seen anger’s ugly side. Instead I pick it up to remind me of this stillness. Let them search my pockets if they want to – this stone is all they will find.

I’m not ready to leave. The moon has still to complete the first stage in its slow arc and I’ve yet to take my fill of its wisdom. It never seems to tire of this night time journey, exerting a silent power over the water in its kingdom. No-one disputes its right to the sky; no-one contradicts it. And me? I’m as much under its spell as any other, looking through jealous eyes at its dominance of the night time hours. There is something cheering about seeing the moon in daytime; its steady path smacks of confidence, even when it is trespassing on the sun’s territory.

Another cloud blows past and both the moon and its sister wink at me as if to say, ‘We know why you loiter so long by this lake.’ For a moment I am exposed by grey light and a thin shadow stretches behind me, then both eyes close.