Driving across the Southside Bridge
where iron girders ruffle my radio signal
like a hand through static hair,
I think I might stall traffic,
climb from my Kia, walk to the rail.
Looking down, I’ll remember
watching the boats with my father
at Charleston’s Sternwheel Regatta.
Speeders ripped water. Colorful
fishing craft trolled near shore.
Partiers on wide, raftlike pontoons
drank their hours, dancing adrift
to harmonies of whatever has-been band
threw noise over stillness.
We sat on the bank, observing,
sometimes pointing like witnesses
to a robber fleeing. I like to believe
my father spoke up then to explain
in Moby-Dick-like precision
the clockwork of what we saw,
or maybe to sing along as, say,
The Drifters eased into their choruses.
But he & I were the same in our isolation,
our way of watching without interaction.
We were patients under the dentist’s ether:
floating, mesmerized, counting
backward from a random number.
When we regained consciousness,
it would be time to go home,
as I’m doing now: crossing over,
putting a mile behind me:
my car’s speakers hiss, whir, clap, sigh, &
I wonder if I’ve heard this song
or if it’s another lie that memory tells.
Ace Boggess is author of three books of poetry, most recently Ultra Deep Field (Brick Road, 2017), and the novel A Song Without a Melody (Hyperborea, 2016). His fourth book of poems, I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So, is forthcoming from Unsolicited Press. His poetry has appeared in Harvard Review, Rhino, North Dakota Quarterly, and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.