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  • Just a photo in a box
    one snap
    out of a jumble of family history
    edges curled,
    the colors a touch too Technicolor.
    On the back in my mother’s script,
    August, 1968

    My father
    in stained and torn chinos
    red and black checked wool shirt
    sleeves rolled up
    dark hair unruly
    half-turns to the camera
    leaving for a moment his thoughts
    and the dark blue and open sea.
    Below him a white curl of surf over pink granite ledges.
    Just beyond him in a long crack
    a silver grey log is driven like a wedge
    and fractured blocks of stone
    lie scattered and jumbled.

    He holds the red spinning rod
    The one he made that winter
    Long, late night hours at the table
    hunched over the tiny vise
    winding fine silk thread
    Round and round and round about the bare fiberglass pole
    Hours waiting for the phone to ring
    Calling him back
    To a rising storm of
    flames and anger.
    Professorial discourse and debate traded
    for slogan and label and clenched fist.
    Calling him to stand between police
    and the students he used to know.
    Calling him to choose a side.

    He has only half turned
    to look up to the dark hedge of spruce
    and the camera.
    When he turns back
    he faces only the sea,
    a dark and restless infinity,
    stretching south to Africa.

    Today, he has become a smaller man,
    round and stooped,
    thin grey hair
    cantankerous and impatient.
    And this morning I wondered
    about the choices he made and lived with,
    when his life was a small stretch of bare rock
    and the surge of the sea all around him.
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