Floating Home

November 26, 2013

SDC 332 039

This poem was written for my father and is posted in honor of his oldest and truest friend, Michael Power, who passed away this week.

Floating Home

Such strange work
for hands come from away
my father lashes another saltbox friend
to his stern,
dragging him through a bay gone wild
hoping he’ll float.

Resettling his landscape
is spine-breaking work.
Against his precise hands
each salted soul has leaned
as they were scoured out, made hollow,
hoping they’ll float.

When this work is done,
my father will motor home
to his rearranged outport
and walk the outlines of houses,
leveled, dark squares
where once he raised a glass,
settled into his best story,
looking through lace curtains,
lucky to count
such a man as friend.
In these air-soaked walls,
yarns were spun,
hoping they’d float.

“Community” he thinks
“is a winter-shifted house –
a little left of where
you last lived it.
Salt-eaten stories don’t sink.
They just shift
a little left
each time they are told.
My heart,” he tells the ocean,
“has shifted.”
and he moves it a little left
lace-curtains it away
from the spray,
hoping it will float.

Somewhere across the night-struck bay
a kitchen full of re-settled men
shake the salt off their boots
and raise hands gone-thin
to the top of a round-bellied stove.
They speak of oceans crossed,
shortcuts they’ve learned.
My father’s oldest, truest friend
newest to the fire,
throws a teabag in his cup,
hoping it will float.

My father rolls home and dreams
of tea-soaked bread
gone sweet with molasses,
boiled dinner
salted with beef;
strange dream for a hand
come from away.

On the underside of the world,
I spin my salted, lace-curtained stories
of home,
shifting a little left of myself each time,
my heart resettled,
my hands gone lunar.

Around a fire,
I roll moon-shaped dumplings:
strange work for hands come from away.
They are my father’s hands.
Our hearts are knitted of salt and strength.
I hold a tiny, pale moon in my fingers
and make a wish:

I hope he floats.


  1. Shelley, this is beautiful. Your father will be proud and Mike would have been astounded at its beauty.

  2. Thank you, Bev.:-)

  3. He was the brother I never had. We shared life together, love together, we laughed together, and we cried together. He was larger than life itself and his passing will leave a great void in my life. I shall forever dwell on all the fun we had. Thanks Shelley, Dear Old Dad…..

  4. Shelley – tho I do not know you or your Dad – I send my heartfelt condolences to him. Your poetry brought me to tears.

  5. Beautiful, Shelley.

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