Helping us Consider the Geography around us | Review of “Lake of Two Mountains” by Arleen Paré (2014) Brick Books


Thank you to Brick Books for making this book available for me at the 2014 Toronto Word on the Street festival

We take way too many things for granted in our busy lives. Work, school, family and so on demand our attention that we ignore simple features that exist in our neighbourhoods. But Arleen Paré has noted the lakes near her and has recorded her observations in her poetry collection Lake of Two Mountains and has given us something to ponder in our own environs.

More (Page 6)

vision doubles

the lake’s surface calmed

trees displaying roots into roots

their upside-down selves

tree selves downside-up

in the water where their roots

touch their roots   a surfeit of calm

redoubles the lake

Paré has given not only careful thought but also a great deal of research into this collection. She has organized her thoughts into careful phrases that the mind’s eye can clearly see how a lake came into formation and now exists.

Becoming Lake (Page 7-8)

Start early. Pleistocene.

3 a.m. Let the Laurentide Ice Shield

wrench surface snow, blast

great pans of pale frozen foam.

Thunder out. Cacophony of cold,

glacial-sour. Scoop a basin

five miles across.

Let the bowl corrugate.

Beneath the plain,

concavitate in slow ragged folds.

Sink potholes. Shove mountain tops

from below stony roots. Spall,

brinell, press walls whipped with sleet

Penance the ice. Endure

the murk, the minutes, millennia.

Empty the out the salt sea.

Watersheds, drains,

daily rains gelatinate the sky.

                                           Conjure blue then,

olive-green, brown, streaks of violet gold,

precipitation’s long sombre hush. Rubble,

river mouth, almighty mud.

All things fall away, sink

into brokenness.


ripple-scum and shore fog, water

grey-pocked – but moving,

currents, then caps of white,

the lake’s sliver face

scudded with wind.

Paré has also shared her insight into what others think of her lake. Again she is able to turn to observations in great phrases that a reader can clearly see.

Whose Lake? (Page 36-37)

My lake says the man

with the speedboat

because his uncle

once owned a camp at Riguad where the river

breaks into the lake

God’s lake says

Frere Gabriel because

he believes God owns

whatever He wants

and who wouldn’t want this particular lake

My lake you say

and the lake of your sister

because your grandfather

and mother and aunts

and your uncle

once owned thw white house up the road

and you stayed every summer

and swam every day

rain or shine

Our lake say the Mohawks

and the lake of our dead

because they lived

here or near enough here

and died here

if not from time immemorial

at least almost as long

My lake says the woman

who rents you the room

who owns the patio chairs

and the curved turquoise pool

and the long windy fore-shore

performing before you

and the house like a rock

or a deity

watching your backs.

Lake of Two Mountains by Arleen Paré is an insightful collection of poetry which opens the mind’s eye to the complexities of lakes. It is a pleasure to read and ponder over.


Link to Brick Books website for Lake of Two Mountains

Link to Arleen Paré’s website

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