The Fourth River

Tributaries: “Naming the Lake”

By on November 30, 2016

By Sarah Ann Winn


One of five reservoirs. Not a lake, but my lake, Hower Lake. Islanded, my land grown by dredging, then, once the depths were scoured, raising water levels, lowering. Shores once submerged, emerged, every year differently ragged, trailing seaweed, messy with bobbers and rotten logs.

Not an island, our island, the island, the way we said it named it. Inflection cultivated, hours counted by hundreds spent wading, immersing, repeating our history to each other. Our history. Our lake. Hower. Ours.

We claimed its best island, one shaped like a popped balloon, mottled and green. The inside revealed its dustier green. Interior of our own country. We were its only natives, but someone else hung the rope swing, someone else’s feet evened out the shoreline.

We glared from it at fishermen, too close in their bass boats, their radio louder than ours. They were even more sun glazed, usually standing alone, or seated, hopeful in their beer cooler browsery.

We looked at lily pads and knew depth, from swimming eye level with lemon-scented blooms. Their insistent secret roots so like our own. We sang a hymn of home:

Grant us the strength of the lily,
with her elegant emerald
skirts spread to conceal her
own, our own, our frogs waiting,
our hidden sunfish nests.




Sarah Ann Winn’s poems, prose, and hybrid works have appeared or are upcoming in Five Points, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Massachusetts Review, Passages North, and Radar, among others. Her chapbooks include Field Guide to Alma Avenue and Frew Drive (forthcoming Essay Press, 2016), Haunting the Last House on Holland Island (Porkbelly Press, 2016) and Portage (Sundress Publications, 2015). She holds a Master of Fine Arts from George Mason University and a Master of Library Science from Catholic University of America. Visit her at or follow her @blueaisling.