Lake in Madison, Wisconsin

by Lauren Jeter

It was the middle of July, after hours and too cold, but that night in Madison, the lake was beautiful and black. My father had watched the news and a fear grew inside of him, of brain-eating amoebae in lakes, so he never let me swim in them. I agreed to test the waters, though, but not to duck my head beneath the surface at BB Clarke, so we peeled off our clothes and tied our bikini straps tighter as blurred lines of bleary waves lazily dragged the soft sand. The water pooled around my ankles, pulling me further in, and you were a siren calling my name. I could see the city lights across the shore. You assured me you did this all the time as you tugged me under a safety line, and I imagined amoebae filling my ears. Hair tumbled down our shoulders and fanned out like seaweed as we made our way toward the stable dock in the darkness, from which a diving board shrugged. You climbed and held your breath while I counted, conviction rolling off my skin, calling one, two, three, before you were flying and falling to foam. I never did jump. Your friends picked us up from the shore, and we huddled close in the parking lot at a Little Caesar’s, warmed by their laughter and the pizza dropping grease onto our bare legs. We shivered at the water streaming down our backs, dripping proof of my sin.


LAUREN JETER graduated with a BFA in Creative Writing and a minor in Literature at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. Her work has appeared in HUMID and The Blue Route, and she received SFA’s 2017 Literary Award in Poetry, as well as a nomination for the AWP Intro Journals Project. She resides with her husband in Stafford, Virginia.


Photo: “Underwater Body” by Mario Antonio Pena Zapatería