On the third of three sunny days, here I was, experiencing
the dream of every father, on my son’s own boat,
him at the wheel,
piloting his own destiny, in full charge,
few aboard to help him out when life stared him down
and looked shorter then he wanted it.

After 40 years of living off the sea, he shows little
inclination to change,
happiest where he is, chugging along now at six knots
on his gill-netter, the 37 foot Sunfish,
his boat of choice for the last ten years.

Heading west toward Mount Edgecumbe, cutting easily
through the slight chop,
he treats his dad to a little sports fishing.
Closing in on one of the many rock-lined islands,
he casts out an old stand-by, a silver spoon with a red center,
reeling in three quill-backed rockfish
and three young flounder, and just as quickly releasing them,
the fishing scampering for deep water
until lured again from the dark.

As they make their way around Middle Island, heading back,
I quietly give thanks that my son
survived the many dangers at sea.
My son, not knowing his father’s thought, points out
the many dangers of living on land.

Just northwest of town, a deep brown gash of earth
and rock, cuts through the steep
green hillside of spruce and hemlock,
marking the spot.
An unexpected landslide, heavy rains separating the earth
from the rock core beneath,
raged down the mountainside, two young men painting
a house and an older man, slowed by a bad knee,
never had a chance.

The Sunfish, at my son’s command, made a gentle entry
to the Thomasan Marina and slipped home,
a beautiful two hours,
my father-heart brimming with unspoken gratitude
and pride
for my sea-going son
and the life he has chosen.


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