My Father Walked to Work, and His Work Was on the Water

1 December 2014

My father walked to work, and his work was on the water.
His journey through blossom, cat-shadow, and rain.
Always I can see the rungs, but I can never hold the ladder.

I was his youngest child. But a man’s daughter
in her difference does more to ease his pain.
My father walked to work, and his work was on the water.

The grass becomes wet, and then it slides under.
The process is endless and everywhere the same
bootsteps fall. On every tide there floats a broken ladder.

Now I haunt the phone booth by the docks where
the cracked receiver’s silence rings a permanent refrain.
My father walked to work, and his work was on the water.

Does the child die with the parent? My sister
keeps the driftwood he gathered and his whisper of her name.
I grasp the fog’s whiteness as if it were a ladder.

And it breaks whenever I touch it, and the port oar
breaks when I try to set out. Yet every night and every day
my father walks to work, and his work is on the water
where the salmon, silver rung by rung, ascend the salmon ladder.

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