A Woman Wakes in the River, Drowning

by Amber Edmondson

They will ask you
why you sheared your head
down to bristles and stubble.
Why you built a bonfire
by the riverside and dropped
the long strands into the coals
by the handful, watched them
shrivel and shrink.
They will ask you.
You don’t have to tell them.

They will ask you
where the beautiful boy has gone.
The one who cast the net.
Your beautiful boy is a fisherman. Everyone knows.

They will not ask you
about the scales because you hide them.

They will not ask you
about the way you gasp for breath
the air cannot give you
because everyone has desires unmet. Villages rise on scaffolds of secrets.

If they see you follow
your beautiful boy to the river,
follow him unseen, they will ask.

If they see you take
a knife’s dull blade to each of his nets, they will ask.

If they see the fish swim free.
If they see the silver bodies,
pink and spotted bellies.

They will ask but do not tell them
how at the bend of the river you see tails thrash like legs.

You see dorsal fins. They flow
behind these bodies like women’s hair, the kind that tangles in combs,
in fingers, in nets.

Amber Edmondson is a book artist who lives on a decommissioned Air Force base. She studied English at Northwestern Michigan College. Publications include The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works, Dunes Review, and Border Crossing. She has been a runner-up for the William J. Shaw Memorial Prize for Poetry and, in 2013, received three Pushcart nominations. She believes in the ability of the written word to sometimes communicate exactly what we want to say. You can find her work at furredandferal.wordpress.com.

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