Night Circles with the Bucket Man

I have known this lake for fifteen years
I know each duck by the shades of their feathers
And have seen the grass grow taller and cut shorter each week
I know the families that tread in slow circles around the musky water
And I know the aroma of tobacco only shows itself at night
When the bucket man comes to feed the birds and light his pipe
I know I am safe
In this little space of mine
My home of fifteen years
And yet when I wander in slow circles after daylight
I am reminded of my weakness
reprimanded for my absent-mind and feminine figure
That is not just mine
I am owned by owl eyes that watch my legs as I scatter by
Possessed by the shuffles in the shadows that make me walk a little faster
Because I cannot feed the ducks after daylight like the bucket man does
Or he will scold me for risking my life
By going out at night
In my own backyard
I am exposed
For forgetting to leave my skin at home
And wander aimlessly as I please
Because the dark is not safe for me.

Karen Schraeder