Beside Lake Estes

Bonnie Manion


Lake Shore Lodge squats

by the edge of Lake Estes,

glass eyes turned toward

the mystical panorama of

mountain peaks famously

surrounding the valley resort.


Late this September Saturday

the blaze of a declining sun

subdues the furthest peaks, 

dims their colors and crags

into one heaving purple shadow.  

But the lake gleams like the 

slash of a blade between

its sunset-burnished shores.


Nine elk cows meander grazing

in the nearby field, oblivious

of the visitors ogling them. They

lack an antlered bull to herd them,

to lead and mate them, warn them.  

They seem unaware of any danger 

from us humans.

A formally dressed wedding party 

occupies rows of folding chairs

on the grass fronting the hotel,

performs blandly before the 

theatrics of the blazing sky.


On the other side, some plain families

share a simple supper at a picnic shelter 

near the marina, soft Hispanic voices

carried gently to tourists sauntering 

the paved walkway beside a lake

shimmering with late-day sunlight.


Overhead, clouds gather silently, white

faces attentive to the riveting, dominating 

glare of the Western sunset.  The breeze 

softens as the vault melts from endless blue 

to yellow, and finally to a deepening ebony.  

Sky reflects first a blare of gold, then a burst 

of blood-red from the declining sun, finally

an evening curtain of indigo.


Windows wink on around the shoreline 

and up darkened slopes.  A rising moon 

sheds light on the black lake.  Wedding 

guests weave reluctantly into the hotel, 

while families of picnickers move toward 

their old-model cars, head to modest 

homes beyond the famous shore, beyond 

glitzy neon borders of a light-speckled town.


Four siblings and four in-laws have come 

together at Lake Estes for the first time 

in decades; like the feuding Hatfields and 

McCoys, come to see if they can be 

together peacefully as family.