At Water's Edge: Poems of Lake Nebagamon, Volume One

by Louis Daniel Brodsky

Last Friday's Twilight

One long-ago week ago tonight,
Almost seven hundred miles north
Of this cacophonous here and now,

I sat on Lawn Beach Inn's deck,
As twilight descended over the village,
And witnessed sunset pastel Lake Nebagamon,

In oranges, pinks, indigos, and violets —
Sensations of sublimity and plenitude
That blended with the wine I was sipping,

Rendering my soul whole, transcendent.
For a suspended eon,
I relaxed there, lost hold of my identity.

So invested was I,
In that communion with the lake's spirit,
Its blood filling my grateful veins,

That I deluded myself into believing
I'd never return to from wherever I'd come,
Not twenty-four hours earlier.

But then, like a second sunset,
Inevitability descended,
Compelling me to gather my essence,

Abandon that tranquillity,
Walk the half-minute from the restaurant
To my cabin on the shore, seek sleep.

Tonight, lamenting my isolation from nature,
My loneliness, in this noisy St. Louis café,
I walk home, to last Friday's twilight.

Use the player below to listen to Louis Daniel Brodsky read this poem.



In the small town of Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin, Brodsky finds a full sense of love for the outdoors. He finds himself "Taking time to look and listen, see and hear." Poem after poem shares one man's alerted words for the American north country and for our journeying moods of mind and body, in this ever-changing natural world. At Water's Edge introduces us to Brodsky's own corner of nature and leaves us anticipating future visits, in the subsequent volumes of Poems of Lake Nebagamon.


In these engaging poems, Louis Daniel Brodsky continues the meditative dialogue with Lake Nebagamon and its environs, which he began in You Can't Go Back, Exactly. Reading At Water's Edge, one thinks of Thoreau in his cabin near Walden Pond, or Wordsworth in London, reflecting on his boyhood haunts in the Lake District, or Whitman on his Long Island beach. But the backdrop of Brodsky's Nebagamon poems, as one knows from his previous books, is thoroughly modern; and the driven need, at times desperate, to escape the loneliness, alienation, and dizziness of the urban "necropolis" both underscores and heightens the personal quest for inner peace and serenity that the poet finds in the north Wisconsin woods.
— Robert Hamblin, author of Keeping Score: Sports Poems for Every Season; This House, This Town: One Couple's Love Affair with an Old House and a Historic Town; and Crossroads: Poems of a Mississippi Childhood

At Water's Edge
opens, for us, a full sense of love for the outdoors, from someone generously "Taking time to look and listen, see and hear." Poem after poem shares one man's alerted words for the American north country and for our journeying moods of mind and body, in this ever-changing natural world.
— John Felstiner, author of Can Poetry Save the Earth?: A Field Guide to Nature Poems; Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew; and Translating Neruda: The Way to Macchu Picchu

Perhaps the only thing as dear to Louis Daniel Brodsky as the beauty of the written word are his memories and experiences on the shores of Wisconsin's Lake Nebagamon, which the poet describes as "glory's hinterlands." The combination of his two passions is a wonderful example of the poetry of place — the kind of soul-forming and life-affirming locale that we all have somewhere in our lives. What the open road was to Whitman, the North Woods are to Brodsky.
— Brad Herzog, author of Turn Left at the Trojan Horse

I have been a longtime admirer of the poems of Louis Daniel Brodsky, but no collection of his has quite moved me as deeply as At Water's Edge. These poems bring us, his grateful readers, closer to the experience of nature, which is, as Emerson noted, a symbol of spirit. Spirit and nature mingle in these poems, which lift us, lay us bare. I hope Brodsky finds a wide audience for this work.
— Jay Parini, author of The Art of Subtraction: New and Selected Poems and Promised Land: Thirteen Books That Changed America

You give such great local color to our wonderful little village, camp, trees, birds, lake, etc. I really feel the longing and the depth of your emotions in each selection. . . . Lake Nebagamon is fortunate to have you write about our little town.
— Eddie Drolson, lifelong resident of Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin

As one may describe Bouguereau to the blind or Ravel to the deaf, Brodsky relates the amniotic splendor of Lake Nebagamon and the freedom found in the captivity of its ecstatic peace. I know Brodsky's lake as if I’ve swum her since birth, yet I long for the day when I can know my Nebagamon and can compare it to this poet's envy-worthy testimony. I must trust his promise of discovery: "When you look for it – / That which you'll never find – / It'll be there, waiting for you."
— David Herrle, editor of and author of Abyssinia, Jill Rush

Louis Daniel Brodsky is our Whitman of the Middle West. His poetry rings out from the heart of the heartland, full of tenderness, truth, and a wholly American beauty, reminding us that grace is a possibility, even for our sore-beset land and its troubled people.
— James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency and World Made by Hand



To read an article written about the Lake Nebagamon Trilogy, please click here.


This book is available in Kindle, Nook, Sony, Kobo, and Apple E-book formats, for purchase, and through public libraries' Overdrive account, for loan.

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