Novels

Cutting The Mirror
    By Adrian Magnuson

5:30am. The lake is still, a mirror
Perfectly reflecting this morning's peace.
I walk to the end of the dock.  A sunfish hovers in the weeds below,
Resting, undisturbed. Far to my left a heron hunts in the cattails,
Intent on breakfast.  One step, head turn, another step, head turn,
Quick strike. The fish disappears down its gullet.

Far out on the bay a tremolo, and a rippled vee cuts the mirror. 
Solitary loon. She calls, but to whom?
It is my body that stirs, flooding with connection.
What does she ask? I have no answer.
I know her tremolo as the day call. My bird book says danger call.
Danger?  From me?  I, who love her, who love her wildness?

10,000 years ago, glacier birthed, this lake cast off its icy overburden,
Warmed in northern sun, opened to new seeds,
Mirrored surface sheltering a growing multitude. 
Fish spawning and fishers returning: Heron, osprey, and loon.
No Tremolo. No danger. 10,000 generations returned.
Only the past few hundred have called to us.

Where once no man watched, now thousands make their summer home, 
Imitate the tremolo, call to the loons to make friends.
We call, "Danger, danger", but no one gets the joke.
Loons dive and swim away, propelled by our unintentioned harm.
The skin of our world brushes theirs.  Friction.  Chilling touch. 
Not malign, careless. And yet, they return, wary but possessive.

Men lay claim but do not own their lake. Men own the day.  Boats cut the mirror. Then evening stills and boats are tied. Men withdraw.
Loons retake what is theirs.  Tremolo ends and Wail begins.
Location call. They sing, "Where are you, where are you?
We have made it through the day, the danger is past. 
Let us be together till morning."

Our singing to the loons now seems a sham.  Irony settles in.
Maybe we should leave them be, stop calling. And yet, my desire
Will not be denied.  Some middle ground is sought, some compromise.
In gathering darkness, I sit at the end of the dock.  Still.  Silent. 
Listening to the calls and the answers.  On the periphery of wildness,
Not daring to enter, never wanting to leave.