This Ship of Passage

5 April 2020

By Philip Kuepper

I left home to become.
Had I stayed,
I would have atrophied.
I would have been no more
than desiccation,
breathing in the air of death.

I boarded the ship
of conscious decision.
I faced the sea
of the unknown ahead of me.
I did not look back
to the shore of the familiar.

(I would, in fact, return
only once,
to say good-bye to my father
minutes before he died,
just in time to give him
the most priceless gift I possessed,
to tell him, “I love you, Dad.”
He died as I held his hand.)

Now, thirty years later,
that moment lies seared
into my heart, and holds me
in the caress of its feeling,
my father with me
on my ship of passage.

(15 March 2020)

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