Pagosa Springs Artists

Beside Lake Estes


Lake Shore Lodge squats
by the edge of Lake Estes,
glass eyes turned toward
the mystical panorama of
mountain peaks famously
surrounding the valley resort.

Late this September Saturday
the blaze of a declining sun
subdues the furthest peaks,
dims their colors and crags
into one heaving purple shadow.
But the lake gleams like the
slash of a blade between
its sunset-burnished shores.

Nine elk cows meander grazing
in the nearby field, oblivious
of the visitors ogling them. They
lack an antlered bull to herd them,
to lead and mate them, warn them.
They seem unaware of any danger
from us humans.

A formally dressed wedding party
occupies rows of folding chairs
on the grass fronting the hotel,
performs blandly before the
theatrics of the blazing sky.

On the other side, some plain families
share a simple supper at a picnic shelter
near the marina, soft Hispanic voices
carried gently to tourists sauntering
the paved walkway beside a lake
shimmering with late-day sunlight.

Overhead, clouds gather silently, white
faces attentive to the riveting, dominating
glare of the Western sunset. The breeze
softens as the vault melts from endless blue
to yellow, and finally to a deepening ebony.
Sky reflects first a blare of gold, then a burst
of blood-red from the declining sun, finally
an evening curtain of indigo.

Windows wink on around the shoreline
and up darkened slopes. A rising moon
sheds light on the black lake. Wedding
guests weave reluctantly into the hotel,
while families of picnickers move toward
their old-model cars, head to modest
homes beyond the famous shore, beyond
glitzy neon borders of a light-speckled town.

Four siblings and four in-laws have come
together at Lake Estes for the first time
in decades; like the feuding Hatfields and
McCoys, come to see if they can be
together peacefully as family.


first published in Poetry Atlas

©2013 Bonnie Manion


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