“A Golden Retirement” by Lesley Jenike

Lesley Jenike


My dad’s hurt his back, sits with spy
novels in stacks by the pool and listens

to nautical radio: Come in Wexford
Harbor, this is Deficit Spending—

wishing he could be out on the water too
and not in this crummy lawn chair

with those crummy grandchildren
splashing his feet, smug because

they’re young and he’s not young—
Yachts sail down Broad Creek into

the ocean like souls, he thinks, souls
while old Iron-Sides groans somewhere

off the Carolina Coast. Those stupid kids
on blow-up rafts. Someday they’ll sink.

He finishes another book, this one about
some guy caught in a scheme to steal

the crown jewels, torn between greed
and guilt—those twin stones. It’s me

or them, the spy says. Them or me. No
one hears but Dad. And he just closes

the book. On the patio table the radio
crackles awake, says: Captain Johnson,

you’re breaking up, you’re unreadable.
Dad pictures a ship sailing too close

to sandbars. No one hears the desperate
signal. Voice full of static, he laughs a little.

from Rattle #33, Summer 2010

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