At Nepaug Reservoir

by Matt Mosman

There’s a whole town at the bottom
of Nepaug Reservoir,
Entombed in gold-and-green glass
Without the decency of a shroud.
The prayerful steeple that threads its way
toward the surface
Reminds me that under the gold-in-June water
Was once a town intensely human;
Bell and barroom, courthouse and cathouse,
living as I am living.
I built a town one windy afternoon
at the Cape,
Filling tin soup cans and bean cans
Of various sizes with damp sand,
Molding some of it myself, shoring the place up
with walls and dikes.
I woke to find it leveled by the tide,
Seawater and baby crabs still filling the moat;
I was young and wept, but understood. It was nature
taking its own.
It couldn’t have been like that
for them at Nepaug.
They must have stood for days
Where I now stand; mourning for
Barn, church, school, home—built lifetimes ago
for lives to come.
Seething, they must have watched
As the work of their hands (better than sand castles)
Filled to its gills; to the window, to the roof,
then gone.
Or was it, to them, nature again,
taking its own?
As when an aging relative finally passes on, and there is
No malice—only comforting phrases spoken in serious tones
Among those who knew her well. In a week
she is forgotten.
Did they turn their backs with new vision,
Seeing their town as I see it now—
A handful of old buildings
rotting underwater?