The Boatman


It was an early morning yesterday;
I was up before the dawn.

I’d made a farewell to my father in the night,
and our farewell had the feel
that we’d not meet again.
I could have embarked with him,
but I chose to remain and let him go.
I was done
with hoping,
and waiting,
and instead I’d just come down to the ferry
to see him off.

I gave him a hug,
(but even that landed as a little perfunctory).
He seemed younger (he was a young man again),
but maybe it was I who was older.
The boatman was dressed as an Edwardian-era quartermaster.
The era was wrong. The error was mine.


And there was also a woman, my mother.
She had learned to fly
and was therefore suspected of witchcraft.
I knew the real story however.
After all those years chained to a wheelchair,
witchcraft was the last thing on her mind—
she just wanted to get away and be free.

Three men were tracking her as she made
her first attempts to fly.
I don’t know what they thought they’d accomplish following her—
perhaps they’d turn her into the authorities.
They waited too long though,
because all at once she gained full mastery of her powers
and flew up high into the night sky
and out over the sea illuminated
by the light of the moon,
the moon,
the moon,
she danced by the light of the moon…

Somewhere a muffled orchestra tuned up,
but my ear was preoccupied with a different earworm.

Like a ship without an anchor;
like a slave without a chain…


It’s funny how a thing can loop back on itself,
because I saw
far below
an outcropping of rocks in the sea
and as I descended,
a dock on which
my father boarded the last boat going somewhere.
Again I hugged him
for the last time;
Again it felt awkward.
For the last time.

As my father’s boat departed for its unknown destination,
my mother slipped along the top of the sky.
The moon hung limp in the darkness a moment
and then it too vanished.
I walked away from the dock.
“Now what?” I thought,
“They’re gone and I’m here”.

There’s a orchestra nearby
and I know
if I go there
I’ll be immersed in people,
and conversations,
and music of course,
and all the things of life.

Good-bye stranger,
And they danced by the light of the moon,
the moon,
the moon,
Good-bye friend,
and they danced,
will we ever,
by the light of the moon,
meet again?