Whiskey Island

On the first day
we're free to be together,
on a beach that won't be sand
anytime soon,
I'm sifting
weathered bits of glass
from the scree.

A shadow beside me, you pick
at pebbles.

     We hunker

from the last lift
presses air
each leaf
on Whiskey Island.

     Your eyes turn into Adam's
     at his first sight of Creation-
          and you've heard the sound
          of the Lord God walking
          in the garden.

          I bear you toward it
          swift as
          His Breath.

We almost miss the freighter,
but I hoist you
up and we crest
the last hill
to watch a tug struggle
to true the Calumet's bow.

     At this moment
     you first learn what
     Boats Are.

At last
her prop begins
to churn and
as she greets the wide lake, you

carried on my shoulders
to the mouth of the Cuyahoga.

This poem has been sim­mer­ing for near­ly a year now, and the day that inspired it will always be spe­cial to me. I was very con­cerned that it not be mawk­ish or cliché. I’m still not con­vinced I made it work, and I think it could still use some pol­ish, espe­cial­ly clar­i­fi­ca­tion of sub­jects & objects. Since it has been sim­mer­ing so long, I fig­ure I’d bet­ter pub­lish it before I nev­er pub­lish it. Thanks to Steve Gold­berg & Milenko Budimir for the work­shop help.

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