Read “On Lake Victoria, 1992” from the new poetry collection, Woman at the Crossing, by Susan Okie (Poetry ’14)

 On Lake Victoria, 1992

                        for Peter Ochumba


            Above rare fish with gaping mouths

            we float, motor dead. The lake’s

            warm as soup, noon light blinking off

            your glasses as you pull the starter cord,

            your goal to save the strange species

            that live only here. Between us,

            one water bottle, little fuel, no shade,

            no paddle, miles from shore,

            the villages with rough-sawn fishing boats,

            young men asleep in huts, their flesh

            melting from AIDS—this lake a highway

            for fishermen, smugglers, viruses. You

            in your frayed hat—a scientist who lacks

            sample jars, aquarium, your limbs bony, too—

            pretending the weekend funerals have nothing

            to do with you. Shadow of a huge perch

            slips beneath the boat. The motor coughs, starts.

“On Lake Victoria, 1992” is reprinted with the author’s permission.