The Shore You Left Me

Remember how you told me
that you and Dad
were ships passing in the night –

I thought how lonely
that sounded, how maybe that’s why
you sometimes fill the glass

too much. How maybe that’s why
you settle for content –
joy is the only good

I am willing to pay for,
but I have never seen you
hold it. I have only ever seen you

breathing to fill other sails, making yourself
the bucket to everyone’s bail out –
and how that looks a lot like drowning.

Mom, did you know
that there is more to swimming
than keeping your head above water?

Did you know that I heard the storm
across the hall? I heard the banks of your lonely
overflow. I heard how you weathered it

alone. And maybe that’s why –
maybe that’s why I have always been afraid
of open water.

Lisa Olsen


Lisa Olsen lives in Ottawa with her partner and their two cats. She teaches English as a second language to newcomers.

© 2020