|Apr/May 2017 Poetry|
Photographic image © 2017 Stuart Gelzer
What did he have in that small case
gripped in his hard right hand,
the frayed leather and brass clasp
as adamant as the way he closed
the door on my pleading.
What can you take away
from a thirteen-year-old daughter
on your final departure
from the windy household.
What could he have forgotten
for this last trip, from the things
that used to hang in their closet,
after he must have stolen away
shoebrush by shirt by briefcase,
his residence within our family.
For thirty years I wondered
about their alibis.
Like all the explanations,
the case was closed.
My father had captured the whole dark ocean
with his window. He mined it, watching
and wading in surf, reel spinning.
Respected its power. Never turn
your back on it, he told me
after it tried to swallow me
at Playa del Rey,
its rogue wave a snake
that grabbed my ankles
as they were buried in sand,
but I turned my heart into the deep
while I was in the drink,
seaweed drifting overhead
as light prismed through the water.
I didn't want to rise
from that steep dunk.
Could have drowned there
if my father hadn't fished me out.
Never turn your back
on the ocean, he yelled.
So I never did. That day I began
to drink the wine of sea light
swirling everywhere. I give myself
that pause, the between of life
for a glorious daily drink,
breathing with my gills.