My arms are weary from rowing,
my oars are wooden--carved
and polished by my father's
father, the shellac worn away over years,
my dad's initials, and a heart
followed by B.K. -- whoever might have struck
him the summer he was sixteen
and he took the boat to the river.
She might've been a local, a small waitress
working at the diner, my father sitting at her counter,
eating grilled cheese sandwiches and french fries
smothered with ketchup. I call her 'Brenda King.'
But I know little about my father, even though he talked a lot,
especially when he was drinking.
But there's no truth in bottles.
I've rowed, over the years, across seas of gin,
floated in lagoons of wine,
but this river's clear,
so clear, I can hear
the stones at its bottom
calling their secrets
so I can carry them to the ocean,
where they will be released into something
more vast and powerful than the darkness of the past.