How it was those years ago, when yet
you lived, and breathed in this world
Lost as a husband, won as a Dad
How glad and loved, as kids we were
The care you took, to cook our food
though burnt the pot, it did us good
With stories told, upon your bed
your big old belly, you kept us fed

And occupied with such odd jobs
like distilling oil from cardamom
worth by weight even more than gold
(at least that's what we were told)
Carving pipes from purple heartwood
A special one with the twice-deep bowl
you said would make a nice gift
for Somoza—I wonder if he ever got that
and what he must have thought of it...

How you used to play Go
with the Japanese Ambassador
in our home, I'm not sure if you ever
beat him, only that you both won
with more meaningful territories secured
than the last tally when game was done
I remember how everyone you met
took some of you home with them
How proud I was, and my brother too
That we were both a part of you

When you were given an island off the coast
How you shared it with friends
to make the most of it, how we'd visit
every year and swim with the sharks
without fear in the football-field sized bay
In waist deep crystal waters alongside Pumpkin Hill
we stepped staring down through refracting ripples
to avoid sea urchins amid the great dark
blurry shapes of nurse sharks in mating season

How we pet them from fin to tail and how quickly
they would swim away, how free we were upon that day
When we waded up on to the beach still wearing sneakers
to protect our feet from volcanic rock
How we discovered perfect pools of aqua blue
and jumped in to swim with barracudas eying us
with stark curiosity, how they disappeared
in a flash only to return soon
accompanied by one twice as large

How we'd forage in the jungle
for chicken grapes and shells
with designs on making home-made wine
and wind chimes. How we'd bottom fish
with cracked-open hermit crabs as bait
We didn't even have to wait, the fish bit
just as hook struck water, there was never
any doubt you were the best father

The sixty pound King Fish you caught
on a hand line you'd entwined twice
around your palm—it jerked you
from one end of the dory to the other—
You would've gone overboard if it wasn't
for our uncle, your brother who caught you
and helped you reel that damn thing in
The Bay Island people ate fish cakes for weeks

I remember how you'd rub your unshaven jaw
on our cheeks staying up late telling tall tales
keeping us enraptured all night
What I would do to capture that feeling tonight
The scars left from the fishing line
across the palm of your hand remained white
and visible until your last stand
They serve as much as anything to represent
the extra lifelines before you went
that you had gathered for your short stay
Together you showed us how to experience
more than a lifetime in just one day

The jet helicopter you named "Burrito"
and painted a garish green and orange
The pilot had the doors removed
just like they did in 'Nam
How he'd strap us all in and take us
for the ride of our lives, pulling off
the Hammerhead stunt to everyone's surprise
How hundreds of local poor folk would show
when they heard the distant whine
incoming from beyond the clouds
piled up above the pines

Shielding their eyes from the blowing debris
as it settled in its furious descent
A metallic wasp laden with raw blocks
of chicle carried in its belly pregnant
Freshly exported from deep within
the Mosquitia jungle, I remember the time
you had a day off and so took us on a picnic
You used the helicopter to drop us down
to an uncharted spot by a pristine river
hidden deep, winding through a cloud
rain forest where you theorized

No human had ever stepped foot
and the stones along the riverbottom
were all polished into eggs the size
of an ostrich's, and how later
that year after we had forgotten
you gave us each one riverstone
for Christmas, it was all that we got
Back then we were mad, only many years later
did we come to accept them
as priceless gifts that could only
have been given by a truly great Dad

How it was, those years
long gone, when you still smiled
and could do no wrong. Left as a husband
to be found as a father, with care
you tended our garden in a lazy kind of way
Just enough you watered us
and fed us every day
I hope you can look down and see
what we have both grown into
Though you seldom got the credit
we owe much of it to you

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