Poem 5–A Trip

For this poem, we were supposed to root it in truth but then make up some of the details.  One of my favorite trips I took as a child was to Whitefish Point in Michigan.  There is a shipwreck museum there and it was the coolest place ever.  One day, I plan to take my boys there so they can experience it, too.

Edmund Fitzgerald Could Have Been My Father

November 10, 1975


We went that summer to pay respect

to the sunken ships of the superior lake


A lighthouse was their headstone—

the ships, themselves, rested in paupers’ graves


Names—on wood, on steel—legible only to fish

in schools that can’t read


The living wanted to study the portraits of the dead

read plaques covered in ridiculously small script


Squinting      squinting      as if the reshaping of their lids

would force some meaning


I much preferred to study the waves—

a deepness that hugged cargo


close to her bottom

I looked past ripples into nothingness


in the nothing I saw myself

This was information best not shared


My brother joined me, asked what I was staring at

I considered all the things I could tell him


metaphors and words that end with –istic

except I was only 12 and I didn’t know


that kindredness had words

He was only 10—the words I didn’t know


held no meaning for him anyway

He asked again–



It is the most honest conversation

we will have.


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