If you have visited only in the summer,
the weight of snowfall on this strip between
the big and little lakes must surprise you.
Winter here makes summer seem impossible —
children running down dunes with nothing
but swimsuits, beach towels tied like a capes,
tiny sails on the horizon, or closer,
Sunfishes capsizing into clear, open water —
all that artfulness cannot fit on the same
plot now wearing its giant white ’do not disturb!’
’keep out!’ ’enter at your own risk!’ sign
blanketing every inch and out into the beyond.
The big lake mills next summer’s dunes,
redrawing sandbars, ice and sand mixing
together, mini glaciers, unstable, fraught;
forest floors, the most ancient of dunes, shift,
irregular, with fallen branches blocking paths,
snow reaching your hip without warning.
It needs these months, cold, alone, to gather strength
for two months of unsuppressed joy, a recluse
coming out as the drum major at homecoming.
But it does better, is more true, here, wound up
upon itself, shivering under its blanket, nurturing
its delicate roots and seeds, sand and pebbles,
taking care, learning its own mind, plodding through
its course, working it out. It is on these terms,
from these terms, that summer opens its doors.