I wish like hell
I could surface again
in a river and find my father,
sunburnt, with a foam
koozie in his hand.
The day is shirtless
with sunblock and cut-off
denims, and he’s wearing
the mustache he’ll soon
banish to a photo album
along with his fat glasses.
I wrap my race-car
towel around my body
and sit on his lap
so I can press my thumb
into the blue
snakes that are his forearm veins.
He draws the outlines
of states on the brown side
of a Budweiser box Indiana
Kentucky and explains
which way the river goes,
how the water sheds
its name at the sharp end
of Illinois and stays that way
until it gets big and round
with salt. I try to imagine how long
and tough and dirty
his toenails would be were we
to follow the path
of his pencil, drifting day and night
with no pajamas. Just belts
made of stars, boloney & crackers,
and the river slopping
against the hull.
The sound of a giant
wetting his lips.

Shrode Hargis’s work has appeared in Bat City Review, Cream City Review, Harvard Review, Ilanot Review, Third Coast, and elsewhere. He currently teaches at Delgado Community College in New Orleans, where the summer heat is really wearing on him. Read: swamp ass.