Feeling the Oar

I was in the air, frustrated

that fog had delayed us. Now,

I would miss my flight to Dallas

where I was on my way to speak

about obstacles as teachers.


I was feeling pissed off

when I noticed my left hand

on the seat—it was my father’s

hand—the large knuckles, the

pronounced veins, the bark-like

wrinkles at the base of my thumb.


It was his hand as I had seen it

countless times: guiding a piece of

wood through a band saw or tapping

on an open book as he would

try to understand.

I opened and closed it like

someone waking from a long sleep.


It is the hand I write with. And it

is weathered, an immigrant hand,

rough from crossing many seas.


Had it not been for the fog and the

delay, I wouldn’t have noticed.


I touched it with my other hand;

trying to know my father,

trying to feel the oar,

trying to remember the sea.

pexels-tiny hands holding dad


Excerpted from Reduced to Joy by Mark Nepo, published by Viva Editions 2013

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