Treasure Island

Sharon Olds

(November 19, 1942 / San Francisco)

The Ferryer


Three years after my father's death
he goes back to work. Unemployed
for twenty-five years, he's very glad
to be taken on again, shows up
on time, tireless worker. He sits
in the prow of the boat, sweet cox, turned
with his back to the carried. He is dead, but able
to kneel upright, facing forward
toward the other shore. Someone has closed
his mouth, so he looks more comfortable, not
thirsty or calling out, and his eyes
are open, there under the iris the black
line that appeared there in death. He is calm,
he is happy to be hired, he's in business again,
his new job is a joke between us and he
loves to have a joke with me, he keeps
a straight face. He waits, naked,
ivory bow figurehead,
ribs, nipples, lips, a gaunt
tall man, and when I bring people
and set them in the boat and push them off
my father poles them across the river
to the far bank. We don't speak,
he knows that this is simply someone
I want to get rid of, who makes me feel
ugly and afraid. I do not say
the way you did. He knows the labor
and loves it. When I dump someone in
he does not look back, he takes them straight
to hell. He wants to work for me
until I die. Then, he knows, I will
come to him, get in his boat
and be taken across, then hold out my broad
hand to his, help him ashore, we will
embrace like two who were never born,
naked, not breathing then up to our chins we will
pull the dark blanket of earth and
rest together at the end of the working day.

Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003
Edited: Saturday, November 19, 2011

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Related Poems


Read poems about / on: father, work, river, death, together, happy, people, dark

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (The Ferryer by Sharon Olds )

Enter the verification code :

Read all 2 comments »

Top Poems

  1. Phenomenal Woman
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  5. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  7. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  8. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  9. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
    Maya Angelou
  10. Invictus
    William Ernest Henley

New Poems

  1. Steal Away, Francie Lynch
  2. love1, andy pierce
  3. a little piddle, lee fones
  4. The Man Who Chased The Moon, Tanja Bulovic
  5. Exit out, J.E. Deen
  6. Royal Orphan, George Egba
  7. A poem to my dead., Tiyani Shadrack Manganya
  8. Crazy, lee fones
  9. ISIL: Think Again, Negotiate with Terror.., Rachel Nichols
  10. Caged In, Kerri Foxx

Poem of the Day

poet Henry David Thoreau

My books I'd fain cast off, I cannot read,
'Twixt every page my thoughts go stray at large
Down in the meadow, where is richer feed,
And will not mind to hit their proper targe.
...... Read complete »

   
[Hata Bildir]