my father never knew how to
The priest in my town said no thing was too small
to try and find the world in it, so we had every right
to be continuous. I would sit with my baby
posture and calm down for a minute
and Dad would pretend to drink from the holy
water and take it home in a bottle.
Horses of running water ran over
my pupils. Have you been in a boat
at night when it is like a cradle? Sober
Harbour is where my father failed to be
a boat builder. He could only do canoes,
he knew how to. Boats and talking
funny is part of our provincial identity.
Dad's boss thought boats the horses of the sea
but the water, you don't really know him.
For boats, you had to save
your muscle. Once in a marina my father
pulled a Kleenex from his pocket
and said this is Odysseus's tissue
which had to be a lie. He was a myth
from history. My father, he loved to say you're right
fucked to the anchors on SportsCenter shitting
on the Blue Jays, saying some men hold
their tongue because they are wise.
When I was born he placed me on the poker table
and claimed his life was in
a reciprocal genesis. King of hearts,
My father never knew how to
convert. The priest changed him
from a Baptist to a Catholic
in an afternoon. Dad became obsessed
with the depths
of his personal renaissance, found love
amphibian. It breathed through his skin.
He grew new legs, sold liquor on them. He was reliable,
did these things cause he couldn't do anything else.
SMILE IF YOUR DAD IS LIKE ORPHEUS
He says if you're going to smile then don’t
waste any time doing it. He's a late blooming
philosopher sitting by the river. He calls
the water skipper a genius in certain aspects
of theology. Some say he's an asshole
but really likeable. He drinks Blues and runs
off with passion and moisture in nature
and waits by the river, and calls it the long
hair of your mother. He loved to swim
a long bed. Out there he finds the channel
for his inner amphibian. He is up to his brainstem
in metamorphosis. He dives down
where the water is darkest. He recovers
the shoe you thought was dead, a salt
shaker, a 1964 dime, a foot of transmission
line. He is your father for a day
at the river. He leaves when the flowers
close and the bees go home to their honeycomb.
He drinks, gargles, a practice in range and vocals.
Your father floats out, up to his head
sings that he's finally touched bottom.
Matthew Walsh has work published in Arc, OAR, The Antigonish Review, Carousel, The Found Poetry Review, and Matrix magazine, among others. Follow Matthew on Twitter at @croonjuice.