I came home to Dad grouting around the bathroom sink,
muttering holy curses, the plastic shower curtain tied up,
showing off its moldy hem, tiny window of frosted glass
letting in a ghost of daylight, tools on the tiled floor,
yellow bulb swinging above his head.
Fucking Mother fucking Mary where the fuck this leak’s from, I’ll never fucking know
A religious man, my father,
a sensuously decaying man, lips like a fish,
cold, fleshy entrance to a cavernous mouth,
a blast of seafood breath.
On the shores, some way from our apartment
- when I say some way, I mean three changes on the bus and then the ferry -
when I say the shores, I mean the real beach with waves
and foam sucking into golden grained sand,
gulls circling, rocks with sharp shells, fishermen out past
the water pools, gaping holes that spume up and blow spray
right back to the beach.
Around the cliffs is an alcove where the sea is still,
not the deep blue that says swim here
and I might have to kill you;
more turquoise, dappled,
sunlight skylarking on endless wavelets.
Here I discovered creatures of stone, half human, half kelp,
barnacles growing on their chests, between their legs,
majestic beings, though broken in places.
One still autumn evening, the king of them turned to me,
just as I was leaving to catch the last ferry.
You should know, he said, I am your real father,
and I rejoiced and danced up the beach and wept on the bus back home.
Later that weekend I held the wrench for my fish-breathed father
as he pulled himself under the sink,
swearing and stinking and sweating,
and I wondered about my lineage and who begat whom
and stared with a mixture of horror and amazement
at the tiny scales growing on my thighs.