I couldn’t pull myself out of bed when you
rolled me into the back seat, drove to Canada,
put me at the engineless end of your fishing boat
and pushed away from the old crooked dock.

Father, you trolled silently across a private lake
and waited for me to start talking. I knew exactly
what you were doing. You’re not very clever, 
I thought, as we cut swaths through silky water

and sought healthy green trout we would admire
then release. I was twenty and still needed to
catch the biggest one—to show you I could do
anything because I’m your daughter, because you’re

my father and you never did anything wrong
even though things could have been so much
better. If I hadn’t been so spent, I would have
told you that you should have been home more,

that you’d forgotten how your wife sacrificed,
how your only son sent your only daughter
to the hospital with his rage. I couldn’t find a way to
tell you—no family is perfect, I know you did your best—

but I’m still broken. When my line got tangled,
I sat pondering the knot, how it got there,
how to best untangle it, when you swooped down,
pulled the hunter’s knife from your belt and cut the knot

out. I watched the clear, tangled string sink down through
green algae water until it disappeared. Then I looked up at
you, recognizing you, still unable to say that the knot wasn’t
gone—now we just couldn’t see it under all that water.


Originally published in The South Carolina Review, 2004.

Leave a Reply