When I was young, we sailed,
from Hingham to Boston Harbor.
We spent hours on the water and you taught
me everything you knew about sailing.
We chuckled that turning the tiller left
made the boat bank right.
In sailing, and in life,
you taught me everything I know.
You taught me how to tie
a perfect bowline knot
and how to tie my shoes.
You taught me how to steady the sail;
the halyard and sheet,
and how to balance on my bicycle.
You taught me how to set
the jib without losing my footing
and how to manage a bank account.
You taught me how to tack
the sail into the wind,
but there’s not even a breeze
now that you’re gone.
You were True North.
I never needed a compass or the stars
with a Papa like you. I’m drifting
without supplies because I always assumed
you’d be here navigating with me.
You sailed across the still, grey water
in the dim light before dawn, without me.
Now the tide is low and I can’t follow.
But still, you had one more lesson left:
The one question I never wanted to ask
catches in my throat as the sea and tears mix salty,
“How do I continue with you gone?”
Now, you’ve taught me how to grieve.