My daughter and I boarded
the ferry on foot and whiled
away the short
but so-long passage
with tic-tac-toe, using newly sharpened
Hello Kitty pencils from her snappy
new case, and discussion
of which teacher she hoped to have this year.
As the boat slowed we descended
and stood waiting on the tongue-
shaped rusty #2 end, arms
around each other, quietly,
in the post-storm breeze, until
"There's my Dad! HI DAD!!"
and the bump of the ferry's unknown
floating tons against the unmovable
creosote pilings, cars behind us rocking
on their springs. I walked her up the ramp
to the waiting other family,
kissed her firmly and told her to be
good. "Have a great first day
of school," and then paid the crotchety
old woman my single return fare.
Placed my feet carefully on the rain-
damp ramp back to the #2 end,
chin up and blinking briskly,
eyeing with envy the big red button
labeled "Tension Release Switch,"
for staff use only. All the return crossing
wanting to cry, I could not.