Jealous Waters

Not waving but drowning.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx–Stevie Smith
 
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxRage ran below the surface
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxof that aging river. Red rock cliffs
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxsheared the edge of the far
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxbank, but I sat on the other
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxside, grassy shade a perfect
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxspot to frame the rapids, rocks,
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxand cobalt sky. I unwrapped
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxmy sandwich, took a bite.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxUpstream two kayaks skirted
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxround an eddy, then skimmed
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxa stone’s throw from my picnic.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxI thrust my hand into the air.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx“Helllloooo!!” I hollered through
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxthe din of riffles’ randy play.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxThe woman smiled and paddled
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxstraight ahead. The man turned
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxhis torso toward me, lifted
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxthe blade above his head
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxin salutation. The water found
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxits chance: Rivers do not care
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxx xxxxabout our need for balance or air.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxx xxThey hurry on, pull asunder
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxx xwhat does not float. “My husband!
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxMy — husband!” the woman shouted
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxwhen the empty vessel shot
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxpast her, heading where the current
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxcalled. Those of us on shore
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxleapt up, barely comprehending
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxwhat we’d seen. People fanned
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxout to find a rope. Another shed
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxher clothes and dove dead in
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxto the drift. Others warned not to let
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxthe flailing man grab on. “He’ll take
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxyou down!—” a woman pointed
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxat her half-nude boyfriend halfway
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxin the drink. What was I to do?
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxNo seasoned swimmer, I
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxstood by while others saved
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxthe man I’d downed. When they
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxfinally hauled him (pale and choking)
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxfrom the cold, he staggered up
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxthe bank, propped between
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxhis wife and a younger man.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxI could not look him in the eye.
xxxxxxxxxxxxIs ignorance (or innocence)
xxxxxxxxxxgrounds for blame? I love
xxxxxxxxthe swell of marching bands,
xxxxxxxparades and trains. Herds
xxxxxof running horses, bands of geese.
xxxxI wave at all of them.
xI’d wave again.