Dominique Larntz * April 29, 2012

Crater Lake

Crater Lake Blue could be bottled
and then I could hold onto stillness with them—
my grandfather and my uncle.
When I talk to my grandfather now
through the gauze of Alzheimer’s,
I am no longer asking him if the travel
trinket I am buying is too expensive.
When I talk to my uncle through
the twisted lips of drug arrests
we don’t mention when we see
each other once per decade,
I can only thank him for teaching
me how to drive stick-shift
in South Dakota parking lots
when I was sixteen.
My moment with them was at Crater Lake,
swirling my sweaty hair up into
a knot at the center of my skull
and I felt safe with them on the road north
through California for a few days
in the middle of a chaotic childhood
but I was probably bored
and I had no idea it was important
to the forty-two year old woman I would become
who needed to know that at the heart
of each fractured person—
of each person who falls beyond cliffs
from which they can no longer send us
words we can decipher—there is a deep crater
of being that is as alive as the earth.
We don’t have to communicate in language
to love our families; we can sit together or
if we can’t sit together we can use their
illness as an opportunity to ask for help
or to help others whose faces remind us of theirs—to
widen the very concept of family
until we learn that there will be no saving
ourselves or each other. There will only be
a deeper, an ever deepening, cratering, caring
that pools in our spirits for us to gaze into
when we need space.