- The Bound Body
In the winter of 2014, the lake freezes in great sheets of ice and snow, and when the satellite shows images of Superior, it shows a black-veined blanket of white and cracked shorelines.
Before the lake freezes over, a small storm whips up. Waves crash against the break wall in Marquette, Michigan, spraying water over the barrier, into the air, freezing a little bit each time. The next day the wall is covered in ice inches thick, the far side spiked with horizontal icicles. Marquette installed a gate on the break wall a few years ago to keep people off the wall during storms, and it too is bound in ice.
November is no time to play chicken with the lake. The lake always wins.
The winter the lake freezes, I stop binding my breasts.
I don't know why that is.
The thing is, the lake never completely freezes. It's not actually possible for the entire body to freeze completely over. There is too much water. The record keepers started to write down how much of the Great Lakes Basin froze over in 1973. In an average winter, the basin is 30 percent covered in ice sheets that blow across the lakes with the wind. Over 90 percent is considered completely frozen. Lake Superior freezes in 1979, 1994, and 2014.
From Duluth, Minnesota, to Sault St. Marie, Michigan, there are 31,700 square miles of water that makes its own weather. Weather that closes the [End Page 85] bridge in Mackinac and hurls boulders the size of trucks onto the road in Marquette. It floods the streets of Duluth.
That winter in 2014 when the lake is 94 percent ice, the wind howls through Marquette, and the snow comes from the north in Canada and the west where the land was flattened out under the weight of the last glaciers to recede 10,000 years ago. That winter the wind blows and the lake freezes and the north side of Presque Isle looks out over a landscape of icebergs ramming into themselves, replaying the way the lake began.
I haven't figured out yet how people become themselves. It is because I am still becoming myself. Lake Superior and her basin had one-and-a-half billion years to get to where she is, and she is still becoming.
A list of things I know:
That winter, I am a nanny to two children under the age of two. When May comes and the little girl has her second birthday, we spend every morning going for walks with the stroller. I am asked if I am the kids' mother.
I am not in school anymore, and I am waiting to hear back from MFA programs.
I feel nothing at all, or too much at once.
The lake is frozen.
I live by myself.
When the ice begins melting I start seeing a person who binds his breasts. He has a very complicated relationship with his body and I know exactly how.
I categorize my life, perhaps, into spaces. Into places.
The winter the lake freezes, it does not unfreeze. The cold comes so early, and so fast, and so calm that when the ice forms, the lake has no choice but to lie quiet beneath it. There are no big storms that winter, nothing to break the sheets up. When spring comes, it comes slowly; the air over the frozen water has nothing to soak up or soak into. April comes, and the shipping lanes finally open while the lake remains 75 percent ice. May comes, and the lake trout and salmon do not start their yearly spawning run because the water is [End Page 86] too cold still. They stay hidden in the shallow creeks near the mouth of the lake. June comes, and the air warms up and the beaches open and the townies bring their blankets and their rubber boots and wade out to the icebergs and spread their towels out and show their white bellies to the sun. It is the second week of June when the last of the ice recedes...