My Son’s Raft

Afloat        it waddles through shallows      steadies enough to turn
             and belly its way into the lake          on knees you struggle for balance
pole forward        I couldn’t see how it would hold          as I watched you
             nail crosspieces         a platform            begging scrap wood
                                                     from neighbors              hauling fallen limbs

you worked through the weekend
             pinched fingers          hammered thumb                 I found cords
for lashing boards         brought you milk jugs for buoyancy          we learned
             trial and error          about placement
                                                                  I insisted on a life jacket

handed you the sun-bleached clothesline pole     and here you are
             on the water       in an afternoon’s haze of insects      circling deadheads
zigzagging toward logs of turtles                   we all sail          year by year
             in jury-rigged vessels         flimsy leaf on the wind
                                                                    dinghy between ocean swells

scraps and flotsam lashed to bone      buoyed by ardor      or need
             a friend judged her craft unsound         she quit us          others cling
to boggy timbers—last vines unraveling     chin above water’s chop       grinning
             enthralled with every water-logged hour        your raft will float
                                                                     back or I will paddle out to you—
                                                                                                                      throw a line.





Michigan poet Lynn Pattison is author of Matryoshka Houses (Kelsay Press, 2020) in addition to three other poetry collections: tesla’s daughter (March St. Press), Walking Back the Cat (Bright Hill Press), and Light That Sounds Like Breaking (Mayapple Press). Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and for inclusion in Best Micro-fiction. Pattison’s poems have appeared in Ruminate, Tinderbox, New Flash Fiction Review, The Notre Dame Review, Smartish Pace, and other journals, as well as in a number of anthologies.

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