David Lewis Paget (22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)
The Vanishing Lake
‘I’ll see you up at the lake, ’ I said,
As she backed on out of the drive,
And that was when, if I’d only known
I would last see her alive.
But Sandy gave me a cheery wave
As she drove on up the hill,
If only I could have stopped her then
My wife would be with me still.
I had some errands to run, so I
Would go, the following day,
When she had settled us in, I’d go
To the cabin, ‘Come What May! ’
We’d called it that, it was always May
That we dropped our tools and went,
Nothing would stop us, come what may
For that was what ‘Come What’ meant!
The cabin stood by a gorgeous lake
That reflected a pale blue sky,
Two miles long, and a half across
It was plenty, for her and I,
We’d row the skiff to the deepest part
Then lie, and we’d laze all day
Maybe we’d throw in a fishing line,
Or maybe just read, and play.
I didn’t arrive ‘til four o’clock
On the Friday afternoon,
Her car was there, parked under the trees
But the cabin was locked in gloom,
I scanned the lake for a sign of her
And then I began to frown,
The skiff was floating out in the lake,
But floating there upside-down!
My heart jumped into my mouth and I
Took off for the lakeside shop,
I knew that he had a motor boat
He was also a part-time cop,
I ran in there in a panic, said
‘My wife was out on the lake.’
I asked him if he had seen her, but
He just gave his head a shake.
We took his boat and we motored out
To look at the floating skiff,
I said, ‘It’s just a flat-bottomed boat,
So what could have made it tip? ’
We cruised around and we searched for her
We searched ‘til the sun went down,
Then hooked the skiff and we towed it in
And turned it the right way round.
Her bonnet, lodged in a cross beam was
The one thing left of her,
We called in the river police, who dived
And made a most thorough search.
‘She’s nowhere down in the lake, ’ they said,
‘Perhaps she ran away?
We’ll try again when the sun comes up
But can only give it a day.’
The cop said Sandy was not the first
Gone missing, out on the lake,
They’d never recovered a body yet
But the water had swallowed eight,
And every time from a boat, upturned,
When there wasn’t a cloud in the sky,
They’d simply vanished without a trace
And everyone wondered why.
I sat and cried for a week up there
In the cabin, ‘Come What May’,
For Sandy was the love of my life
In a quaint, old-fashioned way,
Then something snapped, and I took the skiff
When my mood was raw and black,
I rowed on out but I took with me
A precautionary baseball bat.
Something had tipped that wooden skiff,
Something was really wrong,
Could it have been a giant fish?
Whatever, it must have been strong.
I lay out there for an hour or two
With the bat clenched in my fist,
And then the surface bubbled and boiled
And a hand grabbed for my wrist.
A head came up with a mighty roar
It was green, and covered in weed,
I took a swing with the bat, and cracked
Its skull, it started to bleed,
But the blood was green, and the monster screamed
As I went on the attack,
I swung and slashed at the monster’s head
‘Til I heard the skull go ‘crack! ’
The skiff was rocking, I kept my feet
And I stomped all over its hand,
Smashed its knuckles and heard it squeal
From a mouth that was full of sand,
The teeth, like razors were bared at me
And the bat got stuck in its throat,
I thrust it down with the baseball bat
And it sank, right under the boat.
You’ve never seen anyone row so fast
As I made it back to the shore,
I spent the night in the cabin awake
And I kept my eye on the door.
When I wandered out to the pale grey light
In the first full flush of dawn,
I looked on out where the lake had been
But the whole of the lake had gone!
There was just a muddy sediment there
Where the lake had been pale blue,
The cop came out and he scratched his head,
Said, ‘God! What happened to you? ’
I looked on down in my horror, found
What the cop at first had seen,
The lake had gone with the monstrous one,
But the whole of my skin was green!
4 April 2013
Comments about this poem (The Vanishing Lake by David Lewis Paget )
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