December 27, 2022

Breath and Spark

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Deep winter demands attention, its face fierce, eyes unrelenting. And along the harbor, where many dreams first birthed in my heart, I do not mind giving into what it wants.

My shoes are thin, no lining, nor is it equipped for winter Wisconsin elements. I step through sludge, puddles pooling in the parking lot, along the barren walkway that stretches around the maze of fishing docks, long empty of their summer cargo. Small hills of snow curve into ice and my stride knows no difference in a normal street. Chest expands in the cold, feels like warming fire in my bones. Hands search for heat in my pockets, as if holding on tight to this solitude, deserted streets after a dumping of snow.

Lake Michigan, solid and the same as how I left it, leads me down the harbor. It has always been faithful to me. Gray sky bleeds into the water and I remember how I used to step along these very spaces, imagining the brilliance of my life and amazed at the wonder connecting my soul to God through small-town simplicity with a long-standing nautical heritage strewn with stories of shipwrecks, sailing and salt.

Geese bob in the calm of the boxed in breakwater. Soft chatter between them. A man bundled walks his retriever, narrow snow shoveled sidewalk lurches us closer. We nod to one another, welded together by our languid paces and shared occupancy of the same stretch of time in this momentary eternity. Then I am alone again, eyes matching the water and eager to memorize the jut of pier, size of spire of lighthouse gleaming like a church steeple. To me, here is no space more holy.

My lighthouse, weather-beaten and anchor of so many memories. Walkway draped with icicles extending from wire rails. It would be stupid to try my luck away from sure footing of the shore, but I long for the lap of waves against the metal moorings of walkway, jumping cracks and holes in stones, counting my breaths as the path narrows, angle of metal structure gaining size as I draw closer.

Not a day goes by where my soul doesn’t remind me where it’s truly meant to be. Everything is temporary. We must learn to slow down and speak the language of stars.

Once I stayed out all night, telescope in hand, blanket over my legs, to name and number constellations, usher pale waves from the horizon and welcome the sun to another day.



It’s an absolute joy and honor to be featured over at Portage Magazine! Portage Magazine celebrates all feelings and places Upper Midwest, and I’m so glad my piece of my favorite port town can find a home here. Will you read the rest, and then stick around and read the other work from wonderful writers?

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  1. Daniel Laiser says:

    Sarah, i will keep coming here to read your stories,
    Thanks for the effort you put in this to bring education and fun

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