Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings

there was no one stronger or smarter

no one I admired more, loved more

when I was very young

but this is 1978

I’m living in Madison, Wisconsin

and my dad has surprised me with a visit

he’s on his way to Louisiana

to check out fishing boats he might buy

for his big tuna business back in Hawai’i

he’s staying overnight with me

in my cramped little studio

which means I’ll be lying on the floor

we’ve come home late

he and I having had a few

so we’re feeling good

he and my mom bought me

a $1200 Martin guitar in 1976

which would be $5400 in today’s currency

he’s never seen it

so I take it out

and he handles it carefully

“Can you play something for me?”

the very young me, not completely gone

leaps at the request, the opportunity to show him

now our relationship has grown different, ambiguous


I do a quick tuning check

thinking about what I should play

I know so many songs by now

it’s got to be Gordon Lightfoot, though

my hero, a man whose work I worship

a voice I would kill to have

I decide on “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”

Lightfoot’s tribute to the crew of that sinking disaster

who were all lost in Lake Huron, enveloped by a sudden storm

when I finish my dad nods, smiles

and tells me I sound good, the guitar too

then rolls over on my bed and sleeps

I put my guitar away

my reason for being

my baby, my love

Talk story

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