Over the hills in the north, the lake comes into view—azure blue water.
At first you see a sea even though you know it is freshwater.

Soft green hills, ancient olive trees, green-silver leaves, and grey-brown bark;
the white-translucent face of rock to the lucid dark basalt boulders along the water.

The sand beach and eucalyptus, dry and fragrant and rustled in the wind.
You dip your toddler’s feet in. Kite surfers hover and skim the face of the water.

Picnics—women in hijabs and other women not—divided down the beach.
The children play in the shallows’ lip of water.

You can see the burgundy curtains drawn back on their golden tasseled braids:
the mural in your childhood church above the baptismal pool was of this water.

As a child, as the minister lowered his cloth over your eyes,
and led you backwards, beneath the water, you arose, to tambourines, from the water.

You read a sign, a plaque establishing the path for pilgrims, which road to follow
to the multitudes of miracles on these waters.

The lake-level monitoring, reported as up or down on the news, the worst in years.
When you turn on the tap, running through the faucet now, we drink the lake’s water.

As an adult, you’ve learned to read and speak and pray in another language,
some words come to you now only in another language, as you suspend your weight in the water.

This lake is fed by the springs from the mountains and the Jordan River.
Whose borders here shifting through time; since antiquity wars over and along the water.

In a new country, you struggle to know what you see and do not see.
To convert is to turn towards another future, but not to deny the past laps like water.

Your child’s name means wellspring, a source of abundance.
You hear your child’s name in a song that says come with me to the shore of these waters.


First published in Orion Magazine. Posted by kind permission of the poet.
Photo by Christian Burri/Unsplash.