For My Father

Hannah Irvin

2007 Third Prize

a kind of fisherman’s tale


You took me to the side of the yard,
cast your line and dubbed me skipper.
I asked you if we would have to wait
for 84 days, like the old fisherman, to reel something in.
You shook your head and a fish pulled you
I took hold of the line, but soon found myself next to you
under a mound of leaves.


I would not have remembered this
if it hadn’t been for the photographs,
for the smell of autumn preserved
in your red flannel and in my hair.
This was before you put on a tie,
before you gave up on your boat and your skipper.


Every nautical mile I turn to look behind me,
making sure the fish has not come
to take me to the city,
to where you retreated
after it swallowed you whole.

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