My Father's Shoulders

When I was a boy
he'd jettison me from his shoulders
into waves to tumble
in the roiling sand and brine.

I'd linger beneath the ocean
as long as breath would allow.
I didn't have the heart
to tell him I didn't want to break
the surface and return to the frightening world.

But now, fifty years later,
I'm able to admit my cowardice
to he who sailed on ships of steel
as solid as his courage.

And, as a man, though my boat is merely wood,
when gales lash out their fearful threat
the helm becomes those shoulders,

and I'm able to stand,
turn the bow,
and face the charging sea.

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