Posted in 28 Days of Unreason, Poetry



The thunderstorm rode ahead of the sea breeze from the Cape last night, colliding with the sunset, juddering my arms and legs; the storms threaten but never protect us.

I haven’t recovered
living so far
from the Lake

Defined us
Protected us
Threatened us

Raising up Her
hand —
November waves —
to slap us

Which always surprised
me since we had only
just been swimming,
fishing, resting
in her bosom
a few months before

Our existence
knew only that
the Big Lake was
who we were.

We could only travel
in three directions
on foot,
the other by boat
running ten, twelve
miles out toward
Chicago until
land dropped away
and we dropped
our lines
bringing home
Coho with gaping
pink mouths

There is nothing
to dominate
us living here
in our subtropical
world with the Atlantic
so far away
and too big to care about
us —

We share her with
too many shores
to own her.

A deer runs along the far bank of our little man-made lake out back; she is looking for her way home.

© Jilly’s All Rights Reserved

for Day 12 of 28 Days of Unreason

“The mountains are so dominant
that some days the people refuse
to look at them as children
turn away from the fathers who beat them.”  

~ Jim Harrison  from Songs of Unreason

While many poets struggled with the prompt from yesterday, this is the one for which I have written and re-written.  (Something like five poems!) With thanks to one of my writing partners who keyed in on the fact that Lake Michigan, on which I grew up, is my mountain.  I understand this Harrison quote because I know what it is to live with a geographical feature that is that dominant.




A wild soul writing poetry.

14 thoughts on “Undefined

  1. I love how you state an essential truth: that when we are growing up in one location, we become indelibly identified with a dominant geographical feature. That you own it. And that you cannot easily transfer your ownership — even to a similar feature. In your case, the lake dominated. It just wasn’t something your refused to look at.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We were taught to have a ‘healthy fear’ of the Lake. There were times on the boat when we fought to get back in as storms came up and then the fear was real and raw. But, oh, the most astounding sunsets I have ever seen! Thanks for reading, Charley. I appreciate your insight 🙂


  2. the title fits so well with your hesitancy with the prompt and the liquid nature of the lake and its temperaments – no wonder you are so clued in to emotive poetry with water as your mountain

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is beautiful. And the ending, with too many shores and then the deer. Perfect.
    “The thunderstorm rode ahead of the sea breeze from the Cape last night, colliding with the sunset” is wonderful. And then “the storms threaten but never protect us.” opens us up to enigma. How would storms project us? and the rest of the poem tries to answer without answering.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think the title works so well with this–the huge body of water–is it a lake or an inland sea, the subtropical area so far from the ocean, and then how do you define yourself? Does this experience permanently defined who you (or we) are–always looking for a way back home, like the little deer?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jane. It was serendipity; as I sat at the window writing this poem, a solitary deer really did go by. She had no trouble finding her way into my writing 🙂


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