Sermon 1

Lake Tahoe, 2019

is Cock and Bull beer caps
under the picnic table

and the mountain jay
cussing out the ground squirrel

and the ancient lake
holding boulders like secrets


is cigarette butts
wedged between pavers

leading to the Port-O-Let
above Emerald Bay


is the woman hiding
behind the tour van

while crying loudly
in the universal language for

I’m afraid of something
I do not understand


is a speedboat circling the island
like a scalpel excising a tumor

is the child’s bare arms
in a thirty-degree breeze

and her father cupping
his hand around the match


is the rock that told my palm
when you learn to love

what is ugly, only then
will you find peace


is last year’s charred pines
standing sentry on the mountain

and a master colorist painting
more blues than I can name

Cheryl Dumesnil


Cheryl Dumesnil is the author of two poetry collections, Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes (University of Pittsburgh Press 2016) and In Praise of Falling (University of Pittsburg Press 2009), and a memoir, Love Song for Baby X (Ig Publishing 2013).

© 2019