My father was twenty six in this picture.
You can only see the side of his close shaved head.
He is sitting with a life vest on above the waves rolling alongside the troop ship,
somewhere in the north atlantic in 1943.
The sea below held all his fears
twisted into dark knots of German submarines.
Lots of boys were drunk; the ship reeked of vomit and the smell of fear.
Yet in the picture too, is hope;
there is and me and my brothers and mom
and saturday morning pancakes and camping trips in the Tetons.
It’s all there just off to the side and out of focus,
waiting, along with what didn’t happen,
just as real, just as possible,
as the sisters I never had or the young Army chaplain
who never made it beyond the beach.