My father talks of being twenty
days in an open boat. Adrift.
My father and others. War time
and the ocean was a bloodslick
clinging to continents.
They had been hit and only the dead
escaped the long days measured
by the turning boat beneath a cruel sun.
Each day a hundred hours of cracked
dry tongues along the chalk of teeth.
He remembers giving up, and that
his final thoughts were all about
a crooked back yard wall and thin
but glorious lines of silver smoke
from little chimneys. In winter,
rivers of gusting snow down white
and moaning lanes. In summer,
flowers and things they wished
they had done or said.
He recalls their believing themselves
to be dead yet each alive to mourn
his own death.
My father talks of the years having flown,
and of being twenty days adrift. His garden
is a blizzard of white roses.
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