Friday, September 20, 2019

I Pledge Allegiance to the Lake (poem)

photo from the boat,
minutes before sunrise
Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Linda at TeacherDance for Roundup, where she is featuring the cover reveal of DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD: Poems, Quotes and Anecdotes from A to Z written by myself and Charles Waters, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini, coming Feb. 4, 2020 from Carolrhoda Books. We are so excited to see the book making its way into the world!

And now for today's poetic offering. A few weeks ago I shared about the book INK KNOWS NO BORDERS and suggested it might be a meaningful identity experience to write a "pledge of allegiance" poem after the last poem in that anthology, "self-portrait with no flag" by Safia Elhillo. Here's what I came up with:

I Pledge Allegiance to the Lake

To its still, green-hush mornings,
its goldburst afternoons.

To its abundant skies lifting geese,
eagles, herons, and iridescent
ballets of dragonflies;

its reliable shores of pebbles, sway-grass
and sunwashed turtles;
its friendly crappie, bass, and bream.

I pledge allegiance to the lake's splash
and hum, its ever-changing face:
sometimes dimpled, sometimes soft as sand.

To its laplap July lullaby,
its keen January whistle.
How eagerly it climbs! How quietly it recedes.

And for the breezy peace it brings,
the secrets it swallows,
the boats it kisses and skin it bathes –

to the beauty for which it stands:
one small body of water
tucked in the tail of the Appalachians,

with freedom, reflection
and refreshment for all.

- Irene Latham



  1. Love it, Irene! ❤️ I can't pick a favorite line. There are so many beauties.

  2. Gorgeous, Irene. Such beautiful images!

    1. Just had to add how excited I am about your new book with Charles! Congrats!!

  3. Well, it seems that others feel the same way, all the lines are favorites! I lived on a lake once, and you've brought me there again, Irene. I'm so happy you love your new home.

  4. Lovely! That lake is shimmering with pride. :)

  5. Gorgeous! I especially love "green-hush mornings." Just perfect!

  6. Irene, you created a gorgeous tribute poem to your lake and put my mind at peace. I love so many lines but enjoyed this stanza that gives breath to the seasonal changes your lake offers:
    To its laplap July lullaby,
    its keen January whistle.
    How eagerly it climbs! How quietly it recedes.
    BTW your new book looks fabulous. I look forward to you sharing it at NCTE.

  7. Your beginning lines took me back to waking up in the morning to one of my favourite camping spots high in the mountains far from the madding cry. Other than that, I can't think of any lines I love best in the beautiful poem.

  8. Long live our lakes–thanks for your pledge to their continuance Irene. I love the sound the lakes make which you brought up so well in your poem, "To its laplap July lullaby," such a gorgeous music especially to wake to.

  9. Irene, I just took a deep little dive into your Butterfly Hours (how I wish I could join you, but not this year) and your pledge of allegiance. What fine work you are turning out these days! "its reliable shores" is my favorite stanza, but all soothing and refreshing music. So looking forward to your dictionary!

  10. There is so much wrong with the world when we look Big Picture. It's important to look Small Snapshot and realize that much is still RIGHT with the world!

  11. I love the idea of a Pledge Allegiance poem. I'm going to try this idea with my students!


Your thoughts?