Father weaves slowly through, keeps the boat's engine
at a low, smoky hum. His back is to us—navigation is tricky.
Mother takes photos of him at the helm, his body curved
over the wheel. Here, every peering log becomes crocodile.
Grace reapplies sunblock to my face, already red
as the Firewheel plants dotting the marsh.
To the heron on the shore, who doesn't fly away,
instead dips his head deep in the water to beak a fish,
nothing is amiss. If he were to open his eyes underwater,
he would see just our keel, the rudder, like any other boat.
Even when he resurfaces, the fish swimming down
his throat, there is no marsh grass wrapped around us,
nothing visible to indicate our ties. Just
my sister's gentle touch on my cheeks, my mother
seeing my father and thinking she likes how he looks,
my father staring straight ahead, watching for obstacles—
a log stretched all the way from bank to bank, the clock
at the rental place ticking toward close, our family fracturing, like light.
Shevaun Brannigan is a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, as well as The Jiménez-
Porter Writers' House at The University of Maryland. Her poems have appeared in such
journals as Best New Poets 2012, Rhino, Redivider, and Crab Orchard Review. She is the first
place recipient of the 2015 Jan-ai Scholarship through the Winter Poetry and Prose Getaway,
and a 2015 recipient of a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund grant. Also in 2015, she was
shortlisted for the Booth Poetry Prize, was a finalist for the District Lit Poetry Prize, a finalist
for The Tishman Review's Edna St. Vincent Millay Poetry Prize, and received an honorable
mention in The Feminist Wire's inaugural poetry prize. Her work can be found at shevaunbrannigan.com.