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  • Talking with Alta Lake: A blog by Cornelia Hoogland

    Cornelia lake photoSwimmers in wet suits, the fins of their arms rhythmic, choreographed, elbowing up, splashing down. The sounds paddles make––the boarders and kayakers who dip them into, then stroke them out of the water. Sounds in miniature. Blue jay skirts over the cedar rail, its nails clicking. Blueberry Hill on the east side of the lake, very blue, very still. Small brown bird at the base of the Douglas-fir. Moments in its day, where it pecks, daily rounds. The bird, beak upraised, pauses between notes. Maybe pausing, maybe something else I can’t read. How can I know? Hear beyond the noise, my noise? Sequences of sound, echo and reverberation, scratch and repetition. The lake in watery decibels. On my fortieth birthday I swam in the lake. When I came up for air, drops leapt out of the water. I’d never seen this before. Like glass icicles hanging on a Christmas tree, but quivering––the lake leaping out of its skin. This mirage stays with me even though it was rain falling not leaping.

    Watery consciousness. Its doubleness, the way it holds me up and covers me. When I swim I’m fluid, and albeit cliché, one with the world. No separation between me and the element in which I move. My cells rise to meet, swirl out into the waves, flow back into me. External to internal, atoms to my atoms. A dialogue.

    On my belly on the wooden dock the lake sloshes under me. The lake’s heart. Sound waves, water waves. I’m lying on the lake’s chest, feel its beating heart beneath me. We’re both breathing. Both have something to say.


    Cornelia Hoogland is the 2019 Writer-In-Residence at the Whistler Literary Festival, and will be reading in the Literary Cabaret, Oct. 18, 8pm at Maury Young Arts Centre. Her latest book Trailer Park Elegy, (Harbour, 2017) was a finalist for the League of Canadian Poets’ 2018 Raymond Souster Award. Hoogland’s sixth book, Woods Wolf Girl (Wolsak and Wynn), was short-listed for the ReLit Award for Poetry. Cornelia Hoogland was also the 2019 writer-in-residence for the Al Purdy A-Frame. She lives and writes on unceded Puntledge land on Hornby Island in the Salish Sea.  www.corneliahoogland.ca