Albert Abonado Outer Banks

I have a poem that starts like this: my mother
came back as a haunted boat. I spend most
of the poem trying to decide if I should escape
the boat, if I should forgive my mother, or if I am
the one who needs to be forgiven. The poem ends
when the boat sinks, becomes a new reef. It ends
when I visit my haunted boat mother and catalog
all the new life, the eels and crabs, the mollusks
under the hull. I even swim with the sharks and feed
them shrimp. I put this poem away, call my mother
on her birthday. I don’t tell her about the haunted
boat in my poem or the slow flood that overwhelmed
her. I don’t tell her where the boat sinks.
It needs to be someplace I can still reach, someplace
where I can practice holding my breath,
where the light can penetrate glass underwater.
Anyway, it is her birthday and she tells me
what she wants me to do with her body
when she dies, how she wants to be
donated to science, whisked away
to a place where science can do
what science does with the dead,
until they reduce her to ash, which is
the economical thing to do. All she wants,
she says, is a light dinner, maybe a few
prayers said in her memory, we could talk
about her recipes, but I had more questions,
like for one, what about a resurrection
and how does a poem come to this?

Back to 53.1