“Swimming the Dam”, a letter from Llalan Fowler inspired by sovroncourt’s song of that title

This feature is a letter written by Llalan Fowler that was inspired by “Swimming the Dam, track 5 on the Waves and Wheels album. Please read Llalan’s ekphrastic piece and then listen to the song that inspired it. Enjoy!

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My old friend,

How are you? I’m hanging in there–thanks for your last letter. This time of year is always hard for me. It’s that “certain slant of light.” I know you know that. Remember the day we drove to the lake? That was around now — early fall. I wrote a poem about it the next day. This was back when I wrote poems. The leaves were turning and some were dropping already. One line described a yellow tree across the lake from us that unravelled like a sweater, its gold leaves spiralling down onto the motionless lake. The water was so still it reflected the colorful hills back at us. In my memory we sat on a pale tablecloth, though I can’t imagine either of us having one back then. You carried a picnic in plastic grocery bags up the levee to where it flattened out. You brought hummus and chips and little sealed sandwich baggies with vegetables you had cut up. I didn’t eat much. I was busy pretending I didn’t notice you reaching for my knee or my hand, and you were busy pretending not to notice me scooting away from you, bunching up the tablecloth around my folded legs until I was wedged in one corner, almost in the grass. The grass was still bright green even though the leaves were turning, the way it is in southern Ohio when school starts. So green I thought of rolling away down the grassy hill. Bugs hopped around my fingers and I wanted to cry. I was embarrassed to be in my socks with you. We weren’t in the poem, just the tree and the water, but the poem is long gone and here we are. Thank you for the pictures. Your daughter is beautiful. I wonder what you will tell her about me. Tell her about the sky that day, that ecstatic blue and the bright alive smell of dirt and water and leaves. Tell her about the yellow tree.

Love,
Llalan

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