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There Is a Lake Here

By Clint Smith

   After Jamaal May

For New Orleans

There is a lake here.
A lake the size of
outstretched arms. And no,
not the type of arms raised
in surrender. I mean the sort
of arms beckoning to be held.
To wrap themselves around another
and to never let go. And no, the lake
is not a place where people are
drowning. And no, this water is not
that which comes from a storm
or that which turns a city
into a tessellation of broken
windows and spray paint.
There are children swimming here,
splashing one another while
the droplets ricochet between them.
The droplets do not hurt,
they simply roll down the side
of the boy's cheek. No, the boy is not
using the water to hide his tears.
He is laughing. Eyes cast out across
the water, in awe of how vast it is.

Added: Thursday, December 1, 2016  /  Used with permission.
Clint Smith

Clint Smith is a doctoral candidate at Harvard University and has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, and the National Science Foundation. He is a 2014 National Poetry Slam champion and was a speaker at the 2015 TED Conference. His writing has been published in the The New Yorker, The Guardian, The American Literary Review, Boston Review, Harvard Educational Review, and elsewhere. He was born and raised in New Orleans, LA. His first collection of poems, Counting Descent, is published by Write Bloody Publishing (2016).

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