The Boathouse


We turned back from the bay while light still hesitated.
You said, “Can’t see how you lived
here all this time, and never fished, or swam, or sailed,”
but I found the poison-ivied path down
to the old stone boathouse with its rotten roof.
Watery light shimmered inside the arches
boats once glided through.
Among rafters the water-glimmer
blinked into blackness. From there boats had lowered.

We dodged ivy up to the shadowy road,
and I listened: the contentious
cats, the garage half-painted, dad’s bad back,
how my brother makes you cry, his heartbreaking
tenor voice, four long tables of food at the reunion, which I missed,
everyone dancing. Hermit or wastrel,
alternating months, years, never in the sun, I heard myself
promise, promise. I watched us walk on into night, heard the hoist unreel,
then catch.