This poem features my dad’s Sunfish sailboat, which we sailed on our little lake in the 60s and early 70s.
Dad bought it used, but only gently so. We put more miles on that boat in the first summer than it had accumulated with its previous owner. Dad and I were calm and talked little when we sailed together. When my best friend and I took it out our goal was to sail past the docks of the boys with the big motorboats. It was when my cousin Leah came from Chicago to visit that the boat’s potential for capsizing was realized.
“Underwater Sisters” was published by Prairie Wolf Press Review in their Fall 2010 issue.
You wanted to switch places with my brother.
I told you how bored you’d be in Michigan,
that we can’t bottle fireflies on July nights,
have to go to bed during daylight, like Alaska.
You tipped me over ten times to one, the Sunfish
sail dragging me under to a place I could hide
to spook you, but you were never scared of anything.
You knelt on the overturned boat and laughed.
I think you laughed. Or were you crying?
When Michigan was all underwater with slippery
plants and bullfrogs, snakes even, and my hair
fanned out on the surface, time eroded.
Maybe you harvested a dangerous lakeseed,
put it in your pocket, and forgot it for too long.
Did I not tell you I was kidding, hiding
under the sail, not drowning?
I wrote this poem about my cousin Leah who passed away unexpectedly nine years ago, in September 2003.