“For William at the Lake,” John Dorroh

Dale Champlin, Back View with Snake, Collage, 2021

“For William at the Lake”

I’m the one who found the dead boy
at the lake this morning. One foot
up to his ankle in the water. It was
foggy like a delicate veil. I was walking
my dog. She tried to paw him awake.
It was too late.

I stayed with him until the police arrived.
It was the right thing to do. His eyes
were open, and it seemed like he was
trying to speak. I called him William.

I thought about my sister who died in a fire
at the age of eight. That was a long time ago
but the flames still haunt me. Her screams
lost intensity as the locked shed burned
to the ground.

There are always questions that go un-
answered. Conjectures. What-ifs. Regrets
and guilt. One foot in the lake.
Parents have to die twice.

John Dorroh


Review by Jared Pearce

The wonderful twist into this poem’s final line helps me not really care if the whole episode regarding William was literal or figurative or anything.  By the end I start agreeing, Yeah, totally, parents have to die twice—the second time it’s their fault, the first time, mine.

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