Made to Order
(Shadowing the great Raymond Carver’s poem, “My Boat.”)
By Sue Mayfield Geiger
Watching a rainstorm, drinking a dirty martini.
Remembering dad’s 16-foot ski boat—
the one he built in my granddad’s abandoned
chicken coop from a set of plans he sent off
for in Boat Builder’s Handbook.
A plant worker, it took it him six months—
going over there nightly and weekends.
It was a beauty—all mahogany and teak
with a fiberglass bottom—shiny and dreamy.
Dad mentioned by name all his friends who would
go out with him on his boat. Especially Edna,
the love of his life.
He made several sets of water skis and he’d teach anyone
and everyone how to come up slowly, “don’t yank on
the rope, let the moment capture your spirit, avoid wakes.”
Food is important for a boat ride, so there would be
sandwiches, potato salad, beer—lots of it—and watermelon.
Fishing poles, laughter, music—dad wanted
everyone to have a good time.
While building his boat, Dad would say: “I can see us all
on my boat—family, friends, anyone who wants a ride.
I’ll take them out on the lake; pull them on skies, give them a thrill.”
Later he’ll ask: “What can I fix you?”
Everyone will eat with gusto, then share stories.
Stuff made up and those that are real.
“I want to hear them all,” dad would say.
“They all matter to me and my boat.”
After reading Carver’s poem, it struck me how much he had in common with my father. Kindred spirits, for sure. With every nail dad hammered into his boat, he was thinking of entertaining others.
Sue Mayfield Geiger is a freelance writer living on the Texas Gulf Coast. Her literary work has appeared in Grayson Books, RiverLit, Dos Gatos Press, The Binnacle, Blue Hour Press, Of Burgers and Barrooms (Main Street Rag) and others. Upcoming: 2019 Waco WordFest Anthology.