A Poem for Father’s Day

Since Sunday is Father’s Day, I wanted to honor my father with this poem about an incident that happened when I was 12.  The poem originally appeared in Poetry Northwest.

Night Fishing

Lantern scans, a searchlight
over water. My father and I
are floundering. I am twelve.
He’s just returned from war games
in Japan. We walk in Neuse River water,
metal gigs in hand, searching
for the tell-tale shapes of flounder.
For camouflage, they bury themselves in sand.
Still their outlines give these fish away,
like a girl’s small breasts
against an outgrown sweater.

I feel lost.  He’s been gone two  years;
he’s as strange to me
as the metal poles we carry,
poles designed to stab.

The wind is hot. The stars
outline the sky in constellations.
I am afraid. I don’t want to find the fish.
I would not have the heart
to lift the gig. I scuff through water,
stirring sand.

My father sees. He starts to sing.
He kicks up sand like I do.
He takes my hand. We splash, we shuffle
through the swirling water.

The fish are safe. And I am safe.
The moon shines. The lantern shines.
The water shines. My father and I
are going home.

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7 Responses to A Poem for Father’s Day

  1. margiedelu says:

    Love this one, Karen.

  2. Rosemerry says:

    the shift in this poem comes with so much relief–such a simple poem in a way, and it goes so deep, so deep. thank you.

  3. brian miller says:

    wow this is a beautiful verse for fathers day…what memories…neuse, that is in NC right? i have been on it…

  4. I like your father singing…great image.

  5. dsnake1 says:

    He knows! you have a great father.

  6. Truedessa says:

    I enjoyed the images that came to mind as I read your Father’s Day poem..The lantern shines.

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