Wade in the Water

The drowning man
still has a hospital bracelet around his wrist
though the name is washed out.
“I’ve changed my mind,” he says,
almost cheerfully,
allowing us to pull him from the river.
Shirt and pyjama bottoms
cling in sodden embrace,
outline his lean bones.
Memory failing, he’s aging
before our eyes, forgetting already
why we’re there.
“They’re taking my wife away,”
he says, teeth beginning to chatter.
We have a blanket around him,
carry him from the cold current of his mind
into the lap of the present,
jolt him with questions, pull down his patience,
take him back where he does not belong.
“There’s a river flowing,” he says, “I saw
it from the window. Reminds me
of the sound of my own blood.
I wanted to go down there,
you know how they dunk you,
let the river wash over you, give you a new name?”

~ Cassie Welburn

Cassy Welburn is a Calgary poet and storyteller who lives on the Bow River. Her poems and stories have appeared in a variety of Canadian literary journals and anthologies, as well as on CBC radio. She enjoys performing her work at storycafes and festivals around the country.

You can read more poems by Cassie here.

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