Residence Time | Michelle Menting

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Michelle Menting grew up the youngest of 12 siblings in a small cabin in the upper Great Lakes region. She's an editor, a teacher, an avid trail runner, and a lover of snow, wilderness, and porcupines. Her poetry and prose can be found in Harpur Palate, DIAGRAM, The Southeast Review, PANK, Bellingham Review, Midwestern Gothic, decomP magazinE, Connotation Press, and The MacGuffin, as well as in other places, including the chapbook Myth of Solitude (Imaginary Friend Press, 2013). She earned her MFA at Northern Michigan University and her PhD at the University of Nebraska, where she was also an editor for Prairie Schooner.




On our northern July night, we loaf, imitate lichen
and breathe as salamanders do, through our skin.
Still and cautious: any muscle twitch, any movement,
might turn droplets of sweat, first small at the surface,
into running rapids, pools of condensed heat.
When loons call from the lake, their porous sounds liberate the leaves.

We then part eyelashes and place our feet on cool leaves
to tip-toe the wooded path. Grasping trunks of lichen,
we follow the loons' tremolo to take a dip from the heat,
to savor their black water, let it loosen our skin.
The lake swallows our ankles when we wade its surface,
and we laugh: our echoes mimic the waves' movement.

The buck moon shoves the clouds into movement.
My sisters and I look up and watch as this vapor leaves.
We then link arms, bob like apples at the surface,
then wonder: who out there knows what tranquility feels like?
So we make a pact to merge below, accept scales for skin.
Diving into wet sleep, we become child-fish: free from breath, free from heat.