For My Uncle Skip

For My Uncle Skip

You wanted to be a marine biologist

I thought about this when my best friend did, too

Jaques Cousteau, a hero

To look at the things under the sea

A thousand leagues,

Or the depth of the above-ground pool in your backyard.


You mixed sound for a band

So cool,

Maybe too cool:

Uncle Skip with his cigarettes and Scotch

In some smoky bar

With my Aunt Lisa,

The softest of hearts

The biggest of loves and

A little rock & roll

For someone who needed it most.


When you heard I was leaving for Peace Corps

I found a Swiss Army knife


A flashlight–

Light for the dark spaces

Power to see me through

Something strong, stainless, useful

For all the rest.


Now I hold this multitool in my hand,

Watch my own hand shake,

Like yours at the dinner table.

My family, such a challenge

A labor of love for your treasure,

Your jewel,

Your opalline girl.


Maybe you wouldn’t have kids because

The world was too messed up

Drunk drivers and who knows what other dangers

Lurking beneath the surface.

But you had me.

Me and my brother.

And Rusty, Tigger, Casey, Romeo:


So many lives,

So lucky to know

Your softest, sweetest sides

So hard to bear

In a world of edges

Even alcohol and cigarettes

Cannot dull.


Uncle Skip,

I hope in this, at least

With a loving God,

You rest

In peace.

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