Irene and I walked to the river’s edge.
It was the river you crossed on the way
out of Granger toward Toppenish. The carp
slithered through water as brown as they were.
Still, it was good to see them moving well.
She had a theory they were happier
if they could see what was looking at them.
All the same, we had to keep still to see
what they did. They came nearer to the bank
where we sat on the blanket from the car.
Irene said, Hold your breath, let them come here,
then let it all out. She liked to say how
they loved to play games, getting us quiet
by getting so close, waiting for our breath
to exhale, diving down deep as you go,
not for good but for now. She took my hand,
it was dusk, we were alone, I had lived
through the accident, Jess and I racing
from Zillah home and I was in the lead
until the right-angle curve where I lost
my 1951 Chevy hard-top,
but O so very slowly as time feels
when it’s out of your reach, comes to a stop
before you go upside down, the top crushed
against your crushed skull and once you are dead
you can pick up your check early and wait
to start your next life another season . . .
Irene loved to tell me I should take care
of myself and end the day in her arms,
she could pick me up and take me to bed
and even my Chevy’s top would stay hard.
What would it be like to be dead? She said,
Who would know? No one dead ever answers.
What about that bright light that goes straight up
when you lose your body to keep your soul?
She said, You came back, you don’t want to see
what’s up there until you see what we can make
between us; and I: My brother is there,
and she: I have a sister there. In town,
June bugs fell on their backs under bright light.
(5 July 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander