By the Lake

by Barbara Fisher

A sunless day and coolish. No weather
for a picnic. We have parked by the lake
and are eating our sandwiches in the car.

It’s one of those melancholy days when lake
and sky are the same grey; even the trees,
paperbarks mostly, offer only variations of tone.

The whole scene looks as though it’s composed
of fabrics: silk, faintly wrinkled, for the great
stretch of water, dark stitching for distant

oyster leases, with here and there embroidery
of black swans, while the folded, bush-clad hills
present a sombre tangle of knitting wool.

The cloudy sky is a vast cashmere shawl
—but here the fantasy begins to falter,
for looking at the big picture, we’ve failed

to notice modest runabouts the fishermen
have moored not far off-shore, and suddenly
we realise they are crammed (appliquéd?)

with pelicans, four or five to a boat,
taking their ease, silent, companionable,
as if they’re waiting for latecomers before
setting out on their party of pleasure.

“By the Lake” is published here on BluePlanet with the kind permission of Barbara Fisher, 
and Quadrant magazine in which it first appeared in their July/August 2009 edition.