Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Caught Before Flight

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Sun is sparkling on top of blue water
A summer thunderstorm is moving in
I still have that picture tucked inside a dusty
red photo album
I stand with my father on the dock in front of a
dark lake
Behind us the people of summer drift in their
boats
He holds my waist as we pose
His straight arm keeping a distance between us
I tilt my head away from him
I let the breeze play with my hair
My hands
Two white doves before flight
Are caught in front of my waist

He wears faded jeans and oil-stained boat shoes
I go barefoot in denim cutoffs
New breasts molded into a ruffled tube top
My father's face is captured in a stiff grin
He can no longer cover me up
With guilt
With clothing
With his eyes
This is my summer of love
He is my chauffeur

Over his left shoulder
Two teenage boys in a white and red speed boat
Grin like wolves at my abundance
The pastel flowers on my top fade into my tan
skin
Clouds in the blue sky frame our heads
I look into the camera's eye and smile
Summer begins

Days spent skinny-dipping with boys in secret
coves
Water running off our bodies shiny as minnows
As we pull ourselves into boats
To make out in the silent heat of the afternoons

Nights filled with stars pasted into the distant
sky
Beer kisses from a dark-haired boy in the back of
a boat
Rocked by the oily water and our struggles
A blond-haired boy's desperate fingers in my
bikini
As my father snores in our cabin under the trees

The storm hits late the third of July
Heat lightning first
Torrential rain by morning
Leaves drop into the lake with the weight of the
wind
Father and I leave in the dark with the car's
heater at full blast
We race in silence
Down slick back roads towards home
We race
As if with so much speed
He could leave behind
What I had found

Sun is sparkling on top of blue water
A summer thunderstorm is moving in
I still have that picture tucked inside a dusty
red photo album
I stand with my father on the dock in front of a
dark lake
Behind us the people of summer drift in their
boats
He holds my waist as we pose
His straight arm keeping a distance between us
I tilt my head away from him
I let the breeze play with my hair
My hands
Two white doves before flight
Are caught in front of my waist

He wears faded jeans and oil-stained boat shoes
I go barefoot in denim cutoffs
New breasts molded into a ruffled tube top
My father's face is captured in a stiff grin
He can no longer cover me up
With guilt
With clothing
With his eyes
This is my summer of love
He is my chauffeur

Over his left shoulder
Two teenage boys in a white and red speed boat
Grin like wolves at my abundance
The pastel flowers on my top fade into my tan
skin
Clouds in the blue sky frame our heads
I look into the camera's eye and smile
Summer begins

Days spent skinny-dipping with boys in secret
coves
Water running off our bodies shiny as minnows
As we pull ourselves into boats
To make out in the silent heat of the afternoons

Nights filled with stars pasted into the distant
sky
Beer kisses from a dark-haired boy in the back of
a boat
Rocked by the oily water and our struggles
A blond-haired boy's desperate fingers in my
bikini
As my father snores in our cabin under the trees

The storm hits late the third of July
Heat lightning first
Torrential rain by morning
Leaves drop into the lake with the weight of the
wind
Father and I leave in the dark with the car's
heater at full blast
We race in silence
Down slick back roads towards home
We race
As if with so much speed
He could leave behind
What I had found

This poem previously appeared in Twelve Los Angeles Poets (Bombshelter Press, 2002)



Vicki Whicker lives in Pacific Palisades, California with her son. She earned a BA in Psychology from Quincy University. Her poems have appeared in Twelve Los Angeles Poets and Literary Mama. She is a member of the Los Angeles Poets and Writers Collective, and she is currently at work on a collection of poems and essays.


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