The 2River View 18.4 (Summer 2014)

Michael Lauchlan

Hunger Lake

Riding updrafts. hawks
circle. Geese peck in mud,
and a swallow flaps low
across the water. I stare
from a dock, dazed
by high sun. In distant
shallows, a gray ball
unfurls into a slender S
and stands like a delft
vase that survived the war.
The stance suits a heron.

Last night, unquiet,
I paced and stewed.
I may watch the heron
until wings open and
she rises to the tree
where she worked last
March, receiving sticks
and reeds from her mate,
shaping them into a nest.
I still won’t get it,
but I admire what I least

resemble. Not an ache
spreading to weary legs
and glassy eyes, not hunger
that sharpens action or kills
it altogether--mine lurks
like desire for fish that
never swam this lake. 
No heron squirms while
awaiting a rising glint.
I’ll learn her pose and
hunt the fish that come.


A seated model shown
from the side, an old
painter and, on the easel,
his image of her from the front.
In the sketch, the model thinks
that it’s getting cold, that the late light
softening makes him look at her
even more intently, painting, then
stopping to scratch on a pad.
When he comes closer, holding the brush
like a baton, she can smell garlic
from lunch. He liked the fish
more than she and ate with abandon,
and now his breath is too rank
too close. She fights the impulse
to shift when he comes near. So much
has been done in the last hours
and she'd hate to break the spell,
fearing that he'll scrape the canvas bare
and begin again from nothing.
She’s seen that worn look
twist itself into his face,
so she slows her breath and lets
the meager light take her shape.

Michael Lauchlan has poems in the The Cortland Review, New England Review, The North American Review, and Virginia Quarterly. Trumbull Ave. is forthcoming from WSU Press.

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