Lake George: A poem by Maximilian Heinegg

By Maximilian Heinegg

 

Lake George

The season’s drive through Vermont,
then to Woodstock for sandwiches, past the gazers
at Queechee Gorge, no stopping for Scottish sweaters
or thirty-dollar handles of maple syrup.
Off the exit, past the Stewart’s, Whitehall’s rotting
houses crouch on broken joists, house fronts double
as store fronts, bicycles lean without chains.
This is also New York.

Next Putnam & the hills, the long climb
past the pig farm & its insult of methane
that makes Stella laugh, the two-mile descent
past farms in doubtful states of operation,
curling along Lake Road to Link Way,
the house bought with cash found stashed
in a basement pipe, left by Peter’s father,
Irving, who worked at GE & mistrusted banks
& died of a heart attack from union strife.
Vivian found the pipe & bought the plot.
The camp was built by hand.

In a boat driven by my ten-year-old
with her grandpa’s help, the mind a rudder
as we move through the medium of water,
the background of what we call the shining path,
not sendero luminoso, but seven o’clock
lightness in light, smashed into sequins
by dock jumpers & Sable, the aging black lab.

Stand distanced from the working life
& if not for light, come for summer’s
single-mindedness, the insistent song of heat,
to build a beehive pizza oven out of mud
with uncle Micah; to assist children who cast
for sunfish until the hooking; to run
to Smith camp & gaze on the untended
grape vines, to lay stone steps with Peter
& Carolyn & Wendy, rolling small boulders
up the walk, raising a bottle to Sisyphus.

Years past, when the camp was empty,
we’d wake to see the black waters crossing
the bay without us, & composed ourselves
on its surface. In time, we took your grand-
mother’s bedroom, our children in the bunk
beside, assured her ghost kept us company.
Once I thought of family as a tree from whose
heights we fell, but now we are the tree itself.
Our roots seek water, sourcing the known ground.


Maximilian Heinegg’s poems have appeared in The Cortland Review, Tar River Poetry, and Crab Creek Review, among others. He is a high school English teacher in Medford, MA, and a singer-songwriter whose records can be heard at www.maxheinegg.com

2 comments

  1. Maximilian Heinegg has written a poem that is a journey through New England beauty. Around each curve is a lovely turn of phrase or reflection of light. Up and down the hills are moments of memory that find their destination in the awaiting home of thought- “Once I thought of family as a tree from whose heights we fell, but now we are the tree itself.”

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  2. Thank you, Max, for this beautiful memory. I was there as it was “built by hand,” and it was my head injury that gave it its name – Slippery Rock. I spent many summers there with Vivian, Peter, Carolyn, and eventually Wendy, Amy, Jenny, Becky, and my children, David and Bobby. I can still hear Vivian whistling the same two bars of “Carolina Moon” over and over and over.

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