by Jeffrey Park
Had he been a mariner my father
would have thought only in nautical
terms –leagues, fathoms, dead slow,
lines and shrouds and knots that are
speed and knots that are tied – would
have sailed the South Sea in search
of breadfruit and a nut-brown bride.
He’d have had wood-grain skin
and a stare that scoured infinity.
Had he been a sailor, my father would
have slept in a berth instead of a bed,
would have called the ship’s hold
his home. But he never sailed
on a ship at all. He never went to sea
or felt a deck roll under his feet.
A house far from shore was his frigate
and the barnacles on the basement walls
spent their lives dry and confused.