Leaving Lake Ella, I Discuss the
Lexicon of Loyalty with my Son

by Alexa Doran

It’s not a perfect day but a day you unbuckle & play
monsters by the lakeshore. You teach me to see every tree

as a hand, only differing in degree each reaches
toward me. You touch each branch. And I let August

eat us. Now, you have somewhere to be with Daddy.
I say we can’t. I say I promise next time to add lakeside battle

to our plans. Promise? you squeak, and I realize you aren’t
certain what this means. Future probability not on your radar

at three. How to admit not everything I say you should believe?
We pull onto your father’s road and I try to sum it up:

no matter what, but trust resists the cut of language and I am
stuck – I grab the heart-weight of your knee and say feel

this thumb, its small span, feel this nail, its hush – this is a promise
the tether of thunder, a rivulet robbed of its run.

Published on July 16, 2020