On the Last Ferry to Inishbofin by Roberta Beary

Lost in the landscapes were the blue gulls careening their watchful dance. The sea was the colour of loss, of father’s last words. Nothing so grand as be not afraid in the original. Though as a scholarship boy my father read Latin. In those altar boy summers he would out-swim the rich New York relations. Who called my father Paddy to remind him of the Inishbofin blood that shaped the distance between them.

As the days stretched out my father’s dying I would swim in his sea green eyes carrying messages from my brothers. Too depressing to visit. I’m not as strong as yourself, little sister. Sure wasn’t I only with him last month. And that is how it came that none were present to hear our father’s last words: Fetch me my blue cap, girleen. Then all speech faded and his mouth formed soundless, repetitive words. When his lips grew tired of moving his hand reached mine. Speaking our secret code. Squeeze and squeeze back. So passed the hours while the watchful gulls waited for sea green eyes to turn brown, then black. Where the relentless riptide took hold and my father, the strongest swimmer in the family, went under alongside the last ferry to Inishbofin. Until his hand turned as cold as the grey marble landscape empty of gulls after a night of lashing rain.

Roberta Beary writes to connect with the disenfranchised, to let them know they are not alone. Author of two award-winning poetry collections, The Unworn Necklace (Snapshot Press, 2007, 5th reprint 2017), and Deflection (Accents Publishing, 2015), her micros have appeared in The New York Times, Rattle, KYSO Flash, 100 Word Story, Cultural Weekly, and Best Microfiction. She lives in County Mayo, Ireland, where she edits haibun for Modern Haiku and tweets her micropoetry @shortpoemz.

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