Christine Potter


The paper boats we lit with candles
were supposed to be a hundred wishes,
at least one for each of us, a kindly metropolis
blinking in the haze over the lake.

We were supposed to remember that glitter
the last night before we went home,  silver
and gold friends sung to in clouds
of wet woodsmoke and gnats at campfires,

but mostly I recall the walk uphill to our tents
after each flame had drowned.  I followed
the girls in front of me, the dock path
long and strange, locked in darkness.

How was it we weren't lost, trusting
only in the flock and our memories of day?
We could have been refugees; could have
lost our bodies,  lost even our steps' scratch

in the coarse gravel that poked through
the soles of our tennis shoes.  Some girls wept
and hugged each other, but I kept to myself.
I thought about my too-hot sleeping bag,

the plastic smell of my parents' Ford, due
the next morning. Those things were certain,
even in blackness, but it was still hard to say.
We could have been walking to Heaven;
we could have--all of us--just slipped away.

Christine Potter has been head moderator at The Alsop Review's Gazebo for longer than she can remember. Her first collection of poetry, Zero Degrees at First Light, has just been published on the David Roberts imprint at Word Press. Christine lives on a creek in the NYC 'burbs with her husband, Ken, and two very spoiled cats, Desmond and Molly.

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