I was invited to go power boating
on the Illinois River on Labor Day.
My elderly hosts were retired.
He had been a builder, she a teacher –
caring folk looking out for a stranger.
They had Scottish ancestry, they told me,
and confessed, laughing, that they had spent
the previous night imbibing Drambuie.
We spoke warmly of the water of life.
‘But no drinking on board!’ they chorused.
Old Glory hung limply in their yard
in the soupy Mid-West September air.
While the wife fixed lunch in the galley,
I stood next to the husband at the wheel
while the boat bucked and slapped and dodged.
‘We’d be goners if we hit the driftwood.’
The forests on either side were pristine,
he explained. ‘There were Indians here.’
‘Come and get it!‘ He steered towards the bank
and a moorage. He turned to me, speaking
softly. ‘Our youngest boy, Callum, died…
in Iraq last December. Just so you know.’