for Papa

Sitting on the deck by the river
hushed and soft
with the light
of spring’s lullaby,
I felt you pierce
the thin veil between us,
as you did
when I dreamt of you
on the slow train.
Your face leaned into
the sun with a boy’s
pure joy,
your sunset face
leaned back
into shadow.

You taught me
to swim blue-black waters
in Laurentian Mountain lakes.
I was afraid
of not touching the ground
of fur-lined snakes
dragging me down.
You backed up slowly
into deeper water
just close enough
for me to paddle
into the harbor of your arms.
You coaxed me forward
leap by leap
until you believed,
I could swim
dark waters alone.

Love is a leaking rowboat
that welcomes each wave.

Sitting on the deck by the river,
rocking on swells
of gratitude,
I watch a drawbridge
open its gates
to let sail by
a ship named

Posted by kind permission of the poet.