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I went down and down.
I swam beside the boat,
near its sucking wake and tall
dangerous sides. I pulled
through water hung with mud and slick
shale-stumbled banks running up to trees
and scattered logs bleached white by the sun.
The way I loved seemed to be confounding
everyone. I was not alone,
I had a friend I did not need language
with as we paddled side by side.
I was not shopping, scanning
the horizon for what would be a better life
but beside that ship of people
being ferried safe within their deaths.
We would all arrive at the same time,
but me by my own rhyming muscle.
I swam until the water grew warm
as a body around my body, until I was
in a liquid I had been before, I opened
my eyes against the current
and the stripping weeds, dragged myself
ever deeper into the strands of the past,
back to the riversplit where it all began
and scrambled out at last onto land
tingling with bramble and branch.
And you were there, and we were
strong-limbed and browning, and back.

Rachel Jamison Webster

TriQuarterly Books / Northwestern University Press

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