i never saw my grandpa pray 
but once he’d brought his family 
to live near the lake 
he would rise early 
cross the street shirtless 
big tanned belly over 
swim shorts brown Hawaiian 
slides tan lines on long feet 
toss a towel on the sand 
throw great body 
in with noise and celebration
that water his daily 
he would swim way out
churn a steady crawl 
like a paddle wheeler drawing a line 
up the middle of the okanagan 

my grandmother 
on a cranky beach chair
leather skin golden glistening Hawaiian 
Tropic tanning oil smelling of coconuts 
before I knew what coconuts smelled like 
her tiny feet bathed in crystal water 
mother of pearl toenails
mixed with pebbles 
precious stones 
on her hands 

she showed me
my favourite stroke
ladylike: pick an apple
put it in the basket. pick 
an apple, put it in the basket
this way you keep your hair dry
I never saw her swim underwater
not once

how to pray on a rosary 
how to roll out dough 
fill ice cream buckets 
up with christmas cookies 
a tough 
little bottle 
of nail polish 
between ticklish palms
after they got engaged 
my grandpa went 
to my grandma’s house 
and decked her father 
in the face 
her father 
who in a rage once 
tried to burn them all down 
in the house he’d built with his hands 
in my favourite photos of him my grandfather holds 
steering wheels 
kids: black and white and colour 

in my favourite photos of her she is 
laughing while making food in the kitchen 
she is posing on the hood of a car 
the day before her wedding 
good legs 
bare feet 
hair done, up in a ‘kerchief 
i know him best
when i throw myself under
forgiving water

my hands are hers 
when they are most useful 
put to work, painful  
able to give

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