Poem by Jane Blue   •   Photo by David Chauvin

Two Weeks in September

There is something innocent about September light
when it spills down the gutter at 7 p.m.
We drove part-way on the piece of freeway overpass
where it ends at the river; twilight now, and lights,
blue and red, flashing. We couldn't tell what kind
of vehicles they were, but in the paper the next morning,
words: a rope swung from a cottonwood
up on the levee, out into the middle of the cold
Sacramento. I see in my mind the hole where you
went down, a maw right in the center of that wide
river. Then you pop up like a seal and your friends
laugh; but the next time you plunge
you don't rise. It was 5:30, 6:00 when they called
for help, 7:30 when we passed by, divers
scouring the river bottom; we didn't know this yet.
Your family had got there, the mood turned somber
and everything changed forever. The thing
about drowning is, when you're drowning, you
know you're drowning, but those on shore
haven't noticed. Drowning is quiet, and then
that horrible realization that you haven't appeared.
The river is close to me, your death was close,
but I will not remember it for so long,
not like your mother who sat vigil on the bank
for two weeks until your swollen body finally
revealed its hiding place; close to shore, thumping
against debris. This morning sun reached
through the curtains and fell directly on the yolk
of my egg at the breakfast table, a fluke
of the season's changing, and I felt suddenly alive.

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