Cast Away
(ottava rima)
He died one June twelve years ago, and each​​​
June since I think of him-- my father--of
The cabin perched on Lake McCullough’s beach
That should belong to me and those I love—
These three young children far beyond his reach. ​​​​
While hoping ne’er for sentience above,
As years elapse, I wonder nonetheless
What buried truths those wooden walls possess.
In 1993, two decades past
When he and three best childhood friends explored​​​​
Wisconsin’s northern shores, their joys amassed
With boyish antics’ glee, my father poured
His stock into this home, which overcast
The isle on which he’d once trekked fish-filled fjords.
Therein, he’d reminisce and drape the star​​​​​
Flecked nights with Styx, forever yearning far.
I knew him almost thirty years, from when
He plucked me from the orphan agent’s hold
Until I left him, cancerous again
Expiring in his hospice room, grief scrolled​​​​​
Upon his skin. And when he died, I then
Acknowledged one sole truth I’d never told.
I knew him almost thirty years, and yet
He was a stranger whom I’d never met.
He reveled in his jokester pranks when I​​​​​​
Was young: baked mud-cakes into flowerpots,
Swapped golf balls with the soaps he’d drive sky-high.
He tried, but sent me out with hair in knots,
My sky-blue frocks reversed. And yet, I’d vie
For favor; prized his praise and rued failed shots.​​​
He valued intellect, deemed losing worst,
And so, I recognized no place but first.
But he was also fatalistic, pledged
He’d die when I was young. And then he gave
Me all his keepsakes: fichus, starfish wedged​​​​
‘Tween photo frames. He tried, but ne’er forgave
My mother’s faults and tirelessly re-dredged
My own, withdrawing when I felt least brave
And needed him the most. Then months ‘fore death,
And grandson’s birth, he shunned me with one breath.​​​
Each June, remembering his heart’s own home,
I see him perched atop his fishing pier
Deft-casting illness from his line, to roam
Sought-after youth’s bright sphere. Would they appear
Amidst the soaring pines, lake’s lapping foam—​​​​
The answers to the questions I’d, for fear,
Not posed? If I stood there, where he once stood,
Would I perceive our bond as he once could?

Mindy Watson

If you have any comments on this poem,  Mindy Watson would be pleased to hear from you.