The first signs: he didn’t sweat, tired easily, lay on the bed like brackish water eddying in pools. Then, silence of sand and gulls far off. He didn’t rise. A doctor came. Another. No one recognized the yellowed eyes, that the blood was slowing in his veins— And he also loved ships, my father, wanting instead of losing his mind piece by piece to be cast in a canoe onto the sea. For those weeks he was Odysseus, stooped, who had thought his journey over, but now had to carry the oar across his shoulders into the desert until he reached the town that had never seen a shore. And we were the villagers, circling the stranger with the sun-baked skin, bidding him drink, because that seemed the only thing to say.