For my father, shark repellent was power. He flew
bombing runs over the pacific, confident in the lie
that if he crashed, the canister would protect him.
For our foreman, power was salmon: endless aisles of tins
stocked beneath the surface. When that promise
went to sea the last time, the lights in the cannery
flickered. Gathered on the floor, we expected each word,
yet could not contain our astonishment
as they splashed from his brackish mouth.
For us power was paycheques. We stood dazed
in the parking lot, pink slips floundering in our palms.
Our wives wouldn't expect us for hours.
One of the guys decided to change
his oil and we circled around,
a gesture akin to friendship.
He tipped the can up, but nothing came.
He shook it and banged it frantically,
then tossed it aside and laughed
three sharp busts
which cut at the air like propellers blades—
the laugh you make but once in your life.