Sunday, March 24, 2013

Overboard

Here's a poem I had published in the Cirque Literary Journal two years ago. I read this at the Fisher Poets Gathering in February this year, then just recently at the Olympia Poetry Network open mic last Wednesday. It was written for two good friends of mine who are no longer here: Jeff Snyder and Debi Barker. They never knew each other, and died years apart in very different ways. Yet, somehow they are connected together here:





Overboard


"It was a cannery truck, after all," we said afterward.
"Unreliable. It stalled when he would bring it to a complete stop.
He probably coasted through the stop sign."

"Bone cancer doesn't relent," the doctors told her.
"Go. Live. Enjoy the time you have left."
For five years she did exactly that: dove the Great Barrier Reef.
Went to China. Fished the lake near her house with her niece.
When she was done, she slipped away overnight.

It doesn't take much -
a gentle roll of the boat as the wake passes underneath;
the brush of an elbow,
and the power-drill, set too close to the edge,
tips and tumbles overboard.
You see it roll: watch without moving, frozen
like a dream has materialized before you.
It doesn't even complete a full circle
before it hits the water -  that flashlight -
or 10-inch crescent wrench, or your cell phone
slipping out of your pocket as you bend down -
in the air before you know it.

It lands on the water's surface
like you land on the bed after a long day,
blankets fluffing, rising as they are displaced,
absorbing the impact and falling back again;
only the water receives and moves aside, and you see your knife,
the one you spent all those seasons sharpening,
the one you got in France years ago, on vacation - a gift
from the vendor who loved that you were a fisherman
and insisted you take it –
suddenly out-of-reach, beneath the surface,
fading, getting smaller and dimmer as it recedes from you
and all your memories of it,
out of your grasp forever in an instant,

like your friend who tipped over the edge after the long struggle
to hang on to the rail while the disease rolled under her...
or the buddy who was brushed away in the morning light
when a car crested the hill and elbowed him into the air
before he knew it  - a short fall into deep water. 

3 comments:

Patricia said...

We are all connected, aren't we? You to me, and to another and another. Sometimes we meet and realize the connection, other times we pass in the whiff of a smoke detail and never know, but we are connected.

Patricia said...

We are all connected, you to me, and then to another and another. We may know it or sense it in a whiff of smoke design, but we are connected.

Dixonphoto said...

Thanks, Patricia. I agree.