Cast on Water

CAST ON WATER
(For My Father)

The North Atlantic
was not my country.
Its wild waves crashed
unregarding of the small girl
at their edge, who knew only
the soft brown Ohio hurrying
down to Cairo. My father
took me up in his arms
and waded in. A wave

tall as a mountain surged
over us as he cried, “Cast
on water!” and strode toward
the next. It arched and fell
across us. His arms tightened.
I was blind with salt, deaf
with water, but still he strode
on, and still they broke
over us, and still he cried,
“Cast on water!” till suddenly
we were beyond them in the
calm deep sea. I would have

cried, I would have begged
for shore, but in the strength
of his holding, his voice roaring,
I found the strength of my small
arms and legs. Now the wild
water of the Colorado, chaffed by
the cliffs of the Grand Canyon,
carry the North Atlantic’s oblivious
threat, but I, tossed in a raft

The North Atlantic was not my country. Its wild waves crashed unregarding of the small girl at their edge, who knew only the soft brown Ohio hurrying

that seems as silly as a bathtub duck,
hold on with all my strength, repeating,
“Cast on water!” and laugh as the
great cold wave breaks over me.

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