My sister wrote Rain on water and posted it on everything2.com in 2009. Here: http://everything2.com/title/Rain+on+water
She was writing about going to Lake Matinenda. Our family has had land with cabins since the 1930s and now the fifth generation has gone there.
My sister died in 2012. I wrote my own version while I was there last summer.
What are you doing?
Inwardly, I am on a journey. I am back at the lake. It’s been three years. I am at the lake when the family is not there. I take old friends who have never been there. One knew my sister as I did and has known me for thirty years.
He and his wife and his six year old love the lake. And the six year old wants freedom as we all want but there are rules and you must wear your lifejacket on the front rocks until you can swim and can swim a certain distance and we never get in the canoe when it is on the rocks, it must be in the water or the canoe will be hurt and my uncle’s shade is over my shoulder and I can hear him yelling about the canoes as his parents yelled at him. The birchbark canoe that he and my mother destroyed still awaits repairs. And I demonstrate how to tip a canoe over when we go swimming and how fast it goes. “You may try it, but first you must practice jumping in the water. Do you want to?” No, he shakes his head, no, the small canoe went over so fast.
They leave and I am alone. I am not alone. The dead are there, their ashes, their words in the log, their voices in my head, their heights marked on the wall of the Little Cabin, my sister’s clothes, a marker for my uncle, my grandmother’s bed has been taken apart and is now a bench and I grieve about change and loss but it goes on. My sister is a sea otter but there are no sea otters at the lake and she is at the lake with me because she said, “How will I find you?” and I told her how and she was satisfied. No sea otters, but there are river otters, they come, a family, three, playing and fishing. I sing to them, Pie Jesu and they watch me curiously and go back to fishing and I think of my father my mother my sister and that I think they would be happy to be river otters in the lake together and fishing. I am with them almost and crying. My grandmother is a white pine and in the mink, my grandfather is a dragonfly, my uncle is the snapping turtle, I wonder what my friend’s son is, dead at 22, and the next animal I see is a merganser, the hooded merganser with two babies and she is leading me away from them while I am in the canoe, they are hidden I know about where and she circles back to say that now they can come out and are safe and I think yes, that would be right, a child who grew to a young man and was lost, he might choose to be a mom next caring for these young and careful and nurturing them, protecting them, hiding them, leading danger away.
Loons call and I answer and my voice lessons have helped my loon calls, I can hit the high notes now. A long conversation with a loon with me in the blue canoe and the loon wondering, do I have a loon trapped in my boat or am I in fact a loon, yes, I think I am, I will be a loon not a human any more
I can’t swim for long, not yet strong enough, the taste of the water is ingrained, layers of memory back to five months old and beyond, in the womb, has the lake marked my dna in three generations, I don’t know but I am in the water I am of the water I am water tears and water