Towhead

by Cathy Barber Issue: Spring 2015
I remember my mother’s shout, “Harry!”
his sharp turn in his swim trunks
to see what she was pointing at.

Lake Erie softly choppy in front of us,
nothing extreme or alarming but a steady pull  
out, out, out toward the distant horizon.

My brother was propped against the cooler,
my aunt and uncle drying themselves
with inadequate towels, rubbing their hair
so their faces were obscured, then visible,

then obscured, but the shout snapped their heads to.
My towhead sister, in an inner tube,
a good fifty feet out and sobbing,
drifting farther off shore with each ruffle of current.

Dad chuckled in that way he had, nothing to see here,
move along, when he had caused the accident,
he had let his daughter drift to the edge of safety.

He walked until he had to swim.


Cathy Barber’s poetry has been published in Slant, San Diego Poetry Annual, and Changing Harm to Harmony, an anthology about bullying. She is a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing program and the California State University Hayward Masters in English program, where she received awards for her poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Her poetry manuscript, The Need for Comfort was a finalist in the Vine Leaves manuscript contest. A past president of the board of California Poets in the Schools and a current member of the advisory board, Ms. Barber teaches in classrooms in San Mateo County.