Sea Burial

by Erintrude Pieta

I last had a home, six miles south of charlotte, in 2014
but three years later my father
came around to see me in Ohio
and I drove listening to his old motown classics cd.

We met at port huron
on the lake edge of Erie County
as if to remind me of days
spent with still-blood trout

pressed hard to my palm
between my two thin knees
as I scaled them down
with a fine thistle toothbrush.

One burly man with a scar
above his highest pointer finger joint
deveined grass shrimp with a takeout chopstick,
just how I used to do

all wrong and my father
would correct me with the slap
of a butcher knife’s blunt side
against my cheek belly.

By noon men shuffled off the harbor
the marsh laden squish of their wading boots
echo-ing the memory of shoes hitting porchwood
on the way into an old neighbor’s house,

and my father and I
were eating french fries
out of a peanut oil soaked
white paper cup.

some winds exhale, move across stale fields
as pillars cast beating red light across corn stalks
the way pine warblers throw their voices
in the carolinas. A lone deer licks tree bark,

and I realize I am born of two houses: the one where
my mother’s last breath passes
and the house I left my father in,
to just one day without me looking,

like both hands over my eyes
as being led into the room where
he and all the people I love are singing happy birthday,
left him to die where I couldn’t see.

But I can see him now, barely,
blending into the wharfmen in long tread pants
and a maroon thermal, the sun catching
red in his new goatee, smiling. I won’t look away for awhile.

I let what little words floating
in these brine airs between us be sweet.
I left for a reason.
Sometimes it’s so simple I feel my blood as it thins.

ERINTRUDE PIETA lives in Ohio with her sister and their five snapping turtles.