J.P. White spent his childhood summers sailing on Lake Erie. In the early 1980s, he worked delivering sailboats up and down the Eastern seabord, to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. He is the author of five books of poems, including “All Good Water” published by Holy Cow! Press. White currently sails a Cape Dory 25D out of St. Louis Bay on Lake Minnetonka, near Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Open or Closed
Your hands are always open or closed.
They are not encumbered
with any other choices
that weight and worry the rest of you.
The bright wet fist of the infant
tells us trust comes slowly.
The outstretched fingers of the prisoner
remind us trouble finds us quickly.
How alone a person lives with memories,
dreams and pain more tangled
than the great hoop of the Sargasso Sea.
But your two hands, that old married couple,
puttering along after decades,
are still charming to watch,
one holding the screen door
while the other fishes for the key.
Mostly they are courteous, gentle and tolerant
of one another even when everything
knots your shadow and the door remains locked.
See them there by your side,
keeping you company after everyone else
has left for good,
touching each other
for reassurance as if to say,
How’s the weather over there?
When should we break bread?
Will this be a day to open or close?
– “Open or Closed” by J.P. White, from the collection “All Good Water” published by Holy Cow! Press. Reprinted here with permission from the publisher.