9 Memories Father / by Peter BG Shoemaker

Fishing on a Wisconsin lake
and what I remember is the sunlight
on the pier, the rot of the boathouse
and how you could sit and wait,
and I never could, and neither of us
caught a thing.

Carving a pumpkin
and what I remember is the sweetness
of it, the feel of the knife
in the flesh, the shape 
it took, the taste it offered
a tongue too eager.

Fishing in Georgian mountains
and what I remember is hard
earth, the sound of water
in its yearning for the sea, and
the smell of browning butter
and nothing like a fish.

Ordering pizza in Washington
and what I remember is a hotel
room on a cracked asphalt lot
you in uniform, lies pinned
to your chest, some you told yourself
some you told me.

Sharing a girl I brought home
and what I remember is how old
you seemed, and how young
we felt, and how you looked at her
like a starving child, with tears
in your eyes.

Swimming in a Florida pool
and what I remember isn't the pool
at all, it's the end
of that thing you made with my mother
that thing that made me
that thing you fled from
like everything else, like me.

Singing an opera while making spaghetti
and what I remember is the taste
of the meatballs, the sound 
of our singing, off-key,
off-point, off-task, not
nearly of-ten

Standing by your bed
and what I remember is the sound
of the monitor and the intimacy
of its echo eleven years later
as I lay staring at a different
same ceiling, listening to a different
same sound, and living.

Standing by your bed, a breath later
and what I remember is the speed
of it, how everything slowed down,
how your wife looked away, and the roar
of rage that filled my head,
that still fills my head
the sound of you
and your going.



Peter BG Shoemaker writes nonfiction, fiction, and poetry from a mountainside in the desert Southwest. More at petershoemaker.com.