Monday, June 1, 2009

And now, Remembering my Father

Today, June 1, would be my father's 94th birthday if he were still alive. June 10 will mark the thirtieth anniversary of his death just past his 64th birthday. Here's another poem I wrote several years ago (once again a poem I may have shared with my poet-friend Patty on a tea date).

Rowboat Song

My song is for the rowboat hauled out for winter,
listing in a sea of leaves. I love her lines,
the graceful beauty of her usefulness. But even more
I love the way she carries the music
of my father, his summertime humming and
the ringing of brass oarlocks dangling from his hand
as we walked the tangled path pungent with huckleberry
and sweet fern in August heat. Our syncopated footsteps
on the wooden runway, the slight lift and sway of the float
beneath us, slap-slap of running line on water
bringing the dinghy in. 

My father’s slender fingers
worked the line, hand over hand, removing strands of eelgrass
and slimy mermaid’s hair, bright green and matted. And then
his easy rowing, skilled feathering of oars, their rhythmic turning
in the locks, a two-part pulse of leather and wood against brass:
back and forward again, back and forward. Between strokes,
from the oar tips a whispered staccato drips in tiny
running steps across the water’s surface.

Did we speak? Maybe a little. Mostly in silence we’d do
what was needed—unstop the sails and hoist them,
let go the mooring line, back the jib to bring the bow
around and with sails filling slip gently out the harbor.
Funny—I remember always the setting out
but rarely the homecoming, always a new beginning,
another chance.

One additional note: We sold the rowboat that inspired this poem, but I made sure I kept the oarlocks. Every now and then I pick them up and dangle them just to hear them strike together ringingly. I think I'll be sure to do that today in honor of my dad on his birthday.


David Heald said...

Lovely. I can sense his presence as I read the lines. Did anyone ever tell you that you are a natural-born poet?
I think more teas with Patty are in order...

Sukie Curtis said...

Thanks, Dave. The only thing is...Patty had her MFA and doesn't have to write so many poems any more.