Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings

there was no one stronger or smarter
no one I admired more, loved more
when I was very young

but this is 1978
I’m living in Madison, Wisconsin
and my dad has surprised me with a visit

he’s on his way to Louisiana
to check out fishing boats he might buy
for his big tuna business back in Hawai’i

he’s staying overnight with me
in my cramped little studio
which means I’ll be lying on the floor

we’ve come home late
he and I having had a few
so we’re feeling good

he and my mom bought me
a $1200 Martin guitar in 1976
which would be $5400 in today’s currency

he’s never seen it
so I take it out
and he handles it carefully

“Can you play something for me?”

the very young me, not completely gone
leaps at the request, the opportunity to show him
now our relationship has grown different, ambiguous


I do a quick tuning check
thinking about what I should play
I know so many songs by now

it’s got to be Gordon Lightfoot, though
my hero, a man whose work I worship
a voice I would kill to have

I decide on “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”
Lightfoot’s tribute to the crew of that sinking disaster
who were all lost in Lake Huron, enveloped by a sudden storm

when I finish my dad nods, smiles
and tells me I sound good, the guitar too
then rolls over on my bed and sleeps

I put my guitar away
my reason for being
my baby, my love

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