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D E C E M B E R   1 9 8 4

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SNAKE LAKE

by Thomas Lux



audioear picture Hear Thomas Lux read this poem (in RealAudio).

(For help, see a note about the audio.)

Also by Thomas Lux:
Henry Clay's Mouth (1999)
The Man Into Whose Yard You Should Not Hit Your Ball (1998)
Torn Shades (1996)
He Has Lived in Many Houses (1996)
Gorgeous Surfaces (1994)
Virgule (1992)

Go to:
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Poetry Pages

My friends, I hope you will not swim here:
this lake isn't named for what it lacks.
This is not just another vacant scare.
They're in there--knotted, cruel, and thick

with poison, some of them. Others bite
you just for fun--they love that curve
along the white soft side of your foot,
or your lower calf, or to pierce the nerves

with their needles behind your knees.
Just born, the babies bite you all the same.
They don't care how big you are--please
do not swim here. There is no shame

in avoiding what will kill you: cool pleasure
of this water. Do not even dip your toes
in, because they'll hurt you, or worse,
carry you away on their backs--no,

not in homage, but to bite you as you sink.
Do not, my friends, swim here: I like you
living: this is what I believe, what I think.
Do not swim here--lest the many turn to few.




Copyright © 1984 by Thomas Lux. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Originally published in
The Atlantic Monthly, December 1984.

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