A Grandfather

by Marie Thurmer

We waded in the shallows,
holding his hands, then just
fingertips, as his feet
slowly lifted off the bottom.

The land did not stop
at the waterline, but simply
became unreachable.

His worn face bobbed above
the waves, breath in an O
as our words, fistfuls
of shimmering minnows,
scattered, lost on their way
to him. The tide carried
him out, then back a bit,
a gradual letting go into dark
waters, and we, still
in the ebb, could almost
mistake that O
for the response we wanted—

on the ins, I’ll remember you,
on the outs, goodbye.