The Lake Speaks

This is a guest piece from Jacklyn Janeksela. More of her work can be found here and here

The years run into each other, stream to source. Lake Superior, awash with childhood fractals, holds us close, despite freezing over. It is the coldest of the great lakes. Every chill I’ve ever felt brings me back to its clear shores where I hunt 60 varieties of orchids. Symbiotes should be respected for durability and ingenuity. A seed that demands fungi to push growth edges.
When I arrive at the lake, I forget if I’m pursuing flower or the ghost of Nana. The lake has been known to not give up its dead. I don’t dare test the theory. Although, I’m tempted.


We’re approaching the lake, much like Objibways who arrived in 500 B.C. They claim Nanabijou, the spirit of the deep-sea water, protects the lake. We are coming from The Apostle Island sea caves, ancestral flint and stone. The road leading us there is full of icicle splinters. Someone is bound to touch one.

The lake is so crisp we hear it crack, then wheeze –we lean in as if it speaks. And it does, each one of us hears something different

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This is my grandmother, Virginia Monte Verde, formerly Amico. This is Ginger. This is around 1933 or so. This is before her eyesight went. Eyes with which she had seen the roaring 20s as a first-gen Sicilian-American girl. Eyes that saw her small Upstate New York village of Dansville rise up from the dirt and gravel to paved streets and take-no-prisoners Americana economy. Her husband, my grandfather, drove taxi from the train station to the world-renowned Physical Culture Hotel. The people came in from New York to the PC and the valley town thrived on big city money from ‘the old neighborhood’. And with her sharp eyes she stayed a proud working woman all along making beautiful dresses in her very own Main Street shop. Her eyesight went around the same time my father was born, so she didn’t see the railroad get torn up, or my grandfather’s decline, or the PC go out of business. She didn’t see my father for the first thirty-two years of his life either. So here in my 32nd year on the planet, I post this in loving memory of her getting her eyesight back when my father was 32. This is my grandmother. This is Ginger.