Redefining north.

Dear Minnetonka Lake by Elizabeth Tannen

Dear Minnetonka Lake by Elizabeth Tannen


Associate poetry editor Sara Ryan on today's bonus poem: In “Dear Minnetonka Lake,” poet Elizabeth Tannen weaves a conversational, down-to-earth illustration of place. Of messiness. Of love and it silliness. Of youth. Baguettes and cheeseburger soup. This is a love letter to Lake Minnetonka, and what we learn about ourselves as we sift through the pollution, the pondweed. 

Dear Minnetonka Lake

When we met, I was nauseous.
The night before I’d gotten messy--

kissed a red-headed chef, lost myself
downtown, dropped two baguettes

from the back of my bike. I inverted
your name. (It brought us

closer, don’t you think? The way
misunderstandings might?) People tell

rumors about you. They say you’re spread
with pondweed, obscure invasive species.

One winter in a community college
cafeteria I ate cheeseburger chowder.

What would you like to confess?
The soup tasted delicious.

Aren’t we all polluted by something?
In your waters I discovered colors

of pureness: deep-hued reflections of matter
minerals and sky—barely blushing.

Elizabeth Tannen is a Brooklyn-born, Minneapolis-based teacher, activist, and poet. She has or will publish essays, stories and poems in places like Salon, The Rumpus, Front Porch and Southern Humanities Review. Sometimes she posts on her blog, Dating in the Odyssey Years and in 2015 she founded the 555 reading series. She teaches writing in community colleges, prisons, literary centers, sometimes living rooms and wherever she is, pursues as many conversations as possible about dad jokes, human relationships and dismantling white supremacy.

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