Lake Michigan always terrified me, a wave that could
knock me down, or swell to pin me to the bluff
for I was a child too sensitive to enjoy a day at the beach
when the wind came up and clouds gathered at the edge
of sky, massing to race across the lake from Illinois
to chase me down before I could climb the long wooden
stairs from the beach to our car on the bluff above.
Thunder growled, quiet like my cat when I pulled his ears –
warning, warning – then grew and moved toward me,
winds flattening and building new waves, ever larger
as we packed up baskets, blankets, and towels.
My parents, laughing, took too much time,
caring nothing for the bully waves, the monster lion
rumbling closer in the clouds, ready to pounce.
I ran for the stairs, trembling, wide-eyed, only to fall
when the towel around my waist tangled my legs.
I cried. My dad scooped me up and carried me up the stairs,
thinking I must be hurt, surprised when we got into the car
to find that I was fine, no cuts or bruises. “There now,
no reason to be crying, is there?” I decided not to risk
new teasing, and shut my eyes when the hungry
lion spit frustration across our windshield.
Kali Lightfoot grew up in Michigan and lives in Salem, MA. Her poetry has appeared in Illuminations 29, Quest, the anthology The Wildest Peal, and received an Honorable Mention award from the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Recently, her reviews of poetry books have appeared in Bookslut.com and Green Mountains Review. Kali holds an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.