Sailing with grandpa

Grandfather’s warmth was a harsh grin,
a laughing curmudgeonliness.
Smile lines rose like wisps from his chin
while showing me fishing finesse.

He gave me my first cigarette,
which I coveted, sipping deep
from its embers without regret.
Fingers trailing, eyes drooped toward sleep

in a dinghy trailing behind
his sailboat slicing through the wake
leaving the harbor where we’d find
adventure, no matter the stake.

Forgetting my mom, sunbathing on deck,
I coughed and she woke with a start, glanced back,
bottle dropped, eyes blazed with medusa glare
and I nearly toppled over, or dove.
Snickering seagulls squawked, slurred screams echoed.

I cried at her interruption
of precious little grandpa time,
felt ashamed at my childishness,
prayed she’d remember the bottle
and sadly squawked out, “I hate you!”

One more day to sail away with grandpa
to now recall his wizened sea-worn face.
One more day without my drunken mother.
If I were her I’d leave me free with him,
long since outgrown by one wayward daughter,
but longing for some sailing time with me.
Can’t she find someone to share the bottle?
It might be best if she’d known my father,
a stain on time that I will never know,
Otherwise occupied, or possibly
just a fiction.


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