With a lowball of Jack and fading ice
In one hand, he took me my by the other,
And without shoes on our feet,
Two streets and one block’s sidewalk
Traversed to reach the shore that stretched
Left and right for what seemed
To me, at five, forever.
Wading perhaps too tame for the happy hour
Burning in my father’s veins,
We stepped up to the first black rocks
Of the jetty, stepping stones for giants
Taking respite at the beach,
But more treacherous for simple humans,
Sides obsidian-slick, all at once coming
To rough points obscured by reflection.
We ventured out upon that pathway
Into the sea, the closest we would ever get
To walking on water,
My father trying to lead the way,
His unsteady steps making an irrational path,
His stride outmatching mine.
Without warning tipped the balance of tide,
And then the waves were upon us,
My father shouting retreat
Even as we began to fall, his glass
Swallowed up, returned sand unto sand.
Miraculously sobered, he swept me up,
But looking down, I saw his shins
Had taken the brunt, jagged runs in the skin,
Red sluicing into the wet fibers of leg hair,
The first time I had ever seen my father bleed.
Morrow Dowdle spent her childhood on the Jersey shore, in the tiny town of Spring Lake. She graduated from The Medical University of SC with a Master’s in Physician Assistant studies and returned to her home state, where she works as a family medicine PA for McGuire Air Force Base.