For my father, Alfred Gordon Sidman, Jr.

An ocean seeping into your lungs,
you have no energy left to change
the rhythm of your life. Tubes run
everywhere in this intensive place of care.

We will not return to that blue bay
where salt marshes oozed
under the weedy-legged docks, and I
extracted crabs from brackish water.
It was you who taught me how
to place my fingers carefully over
a crab’s back, lift him at arms length.

On clear nights like this, hands held
in silent conspiracy, we named new
constellations made by wavering lights
of moored boats moving on edgeless waters
and stood quietly before the inexplicable
spectacle of Scorpius rising.

In the clasp of these last moments,
you can no longer point out to me
the Pleaides, Virgo and Antares.
Your hand in mine, the waves of the heart
monitor rise in sharp crests, then
flatten out as smooth as water
on a windless evening or
a wish with no horizon.

Published in Over a Threshold of Roots, Sandra Larson, Pudding House Chapbook Series, 2007