Apr 2013
for Merle Stevens Wehmhoff*

It’s always a summertime cruise
and we’re sweatin’ on the deck,
leaning back on white chairs
and telling tall tales.
A hot river breeze is floating by
with a cool shade clinging
loose to the banks.
We’re drinking ice teas with lemons
like were Kings of that place.
We’re high rollers and barking
like we own the place.
We sail by the entire world
rolling down that river,
our big wheel turning up and up
the wake’s white froth.
At twilight we‘re dancing
and leaning over the edges
as the lights came up
all along the boat.
Isn’t it always this way:
before the end someone
takes a mind to duck out early,
always the life of the party,
always in a coattails and a big hat.
They’ll tip their brims and give you a wink
as they step off the south side ramp,
twirling canes and umbrellas,
depending upon the rain.
The party crowd always tries
to lure them back
but it’s never any use.
And the last you see them
they’re sauntering up the hill
and then they hit that crest
without even so much as a wave
or a shout of *see you soon.

The boat slows down
to kind of a melancholy float,
everyone looking back
but they’re already gone.
My Aunt Merle passed away last night. My biggest memory of her is a Mississippi day-cruise I took in the late-1970s with her and my Uncle George who were down visiting from Alaska.
Mary McCray
Written by
Mary McCray
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