Nancy Pagh: "Oars"




A father dies in a living room, years ago, in June.

Kicking into action mode, that’s one

response to crisis.  Or watch movies.

Rock Hudson kissing a woman’s neck

and the question of beauty, the Real Self.

Hands on wooden oars.  A quiet bay.

Notes each blade drips at the end of a stroke. 

Water meeting water.  I was a wounded man

in all my girlhood fantasies.  Carried, bandaged,

touched.  Another self in chambray shirts.

Hospital sheets.  A father knows you.

Death takes who he knows away.

In a life beneath this life I am Rock Hudson.

I am also the neck and the wind

blowing curtains behind two perfect bodies.

One bends another the way

an oar appears bent from the exact place

it enters water.



Nancy Pagh is the author of No Sweeter Fat, winner of the Autumn House Press book prize in poetry, and After, winner of the Floating Bridge Press chapbook competition. Her poems have appeared in various literary journals, including Bellingham Review, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, and Rattle. Pagh teaches at Western Washington University.