The day my father wore only white
and we waded into the water

His hands – I know one is not supposed to talk
of such things – but my father’s hands
looked neat and strong

and a sliver of pale watch-skin that hid behind
my knuckles   We clasped each other’s wrists, a

complicated arrangement of shapes learnt in school
angular sounds wrapped around our tongues

that I have never uttered since    and
with these he built a firm foundation

My mother said he’d received a calling
from God and to his family, and yes that includes me too

and it was about time he acted like the
patriarch he was supposed to be, put some
edges in his backbone

I didn’t know it then but this was
the only time it would flower    in his

wide legged stance and determination not to
slip and to hold me tight to squeeze the nerves

And then he pulled me under and light refracted
and I came back up and we let go of each other

the shape was broken, the calling answered

Jodie Hannis

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