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REO speedwagon…

August 23, 2010

The place where I go is covered in soot,

so that I feel the need to bathe each day that I returned from,

there without him…

I have stopped sleeping at night,

worried that the words were wrong,

that he will never come,

that I will die here waiting…

— in Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden

A few weeks ago I had a dream that I was moving past a wall of darkness,

which was connected to my father…

I thought perhaps that it might be his brothers’,

with their slobbery kisses,

and slurred,

Hey, baby(s)…

But I wasn’t sure…

All I heard was a question from the shadow,

to which the answer was nobody’s business…

I felt a burst of anger move out of my body into the dream,

and I awoke with the image and feeling,

of my father scared shitless…

Scared shitless of me,

his betrayals,

and everything else…

Less that 48 hours later he called me from the Maritimes,

wanting to talk…

I’ve lost interest in talking,

because underneath his platitudes,

I could tell that he had not made one single inch of head-way,

on the road of reflection…

An unexamined life is a musty book,

that does not grow,

and has a stale,

superficial ending…

I told him that the hatches on my cargo ship are closed to stowaways,

and with lessons learned,

I am no longer willing to rescue him,

from feeling…

As I put down the phone,

I felt lighter…

Weight falling off of my shoulders,

away from my heart,

and out of my guts…

My boat finding greater buoyancy on salty seas…

48 hours after that phone call,

I was swimming at the river with Starshine and Little Gem,

in the heat of the summer afternoon,

when my brother-in-law,

and two of his neighbours appeared,

from out of nowhere…

I watched myself closely,

and felt layers of time,

expose themselves,

revealing a striation of markings…

My brother-in-law wanted to talk,

with the bulging eyes,

and whiskers of a bottom feeder,

as I swam up current,

with all of the strength that I know I have,

steering me forward…

His voice in the background,

like a million mosquitoes…

One of his neighbours,

who I have only seen from a distance,

beside their back-yard fires,

and baker’s dozens of beer,

said to me,

from a boulder,

where he jumped in with words,

I’ve only seen your whole body,

and never just your face,

So I didn’t recognize you…

I watched myself,

and the marks that only I could see…

The sturgeon and his friends,

swam down river,

and sat in the water…

Gossiping,

like old goats,

with shriveled horns…

Muddy vision looking upstream,

as I sat at the edge of the water,

with my children,

aware of the gaze of strangers…

The river continuing to roll out the past,

right before my very eyes…

They got out,

and uninvited,

surrounded us,

like buzzards,

around the flesh,

of the living…

The other neighbour crouched down,

a foot from my face,

as I sat in my bathing suit,

and said,

I thought I’d better introduce myself…

I’ve met your father,

and your mother…

And of course I know your sister…

I went through the obligatory motions of greeting,

with no meaning…

A hunched vulture,

asking me,

point blank,

making it his business…

to know where I am now…

Was I in the home of the little red fish,

full of its own creeks,

and streams,

and rivers???

I said,

No,

and wondered how someone whom I had never spoken to,

assumed so much of my story…

Knowing something that only my father should know,

as I’d trusted him with my open heart surgery…

In that moment I was flooded with the inquiry,

from the darkness,

in the dream,

as its source had stumbled upon me,

river side…

A few nights ago I had a dream that I was urgently,

trying to make my way somewhere,

by boat…

Space on the ship was so tight that by the time I got to my assigned place,

it had been taken up by someone else…

Finally I squeezed my way into a small gap between other people,

and felt something in the blankets on the floor…

It was a scorpion,

with its tail arched for striking…

I felt I had to protect myself,

and the others from being stung…

I wailed away at the arachnid with my bare hands,

and feet,

until it was dead…

The scorpion is not like other spiders…

Its last legs are comb-like structures called pectines,

which are super-sense organs of touch,

and intensity…

Until navy beans wear sailor suits... (photo: Starshine)

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