My mother can’t walk anymore
and I can’t run anymore.
Of course, it’s worse for her.
I take her to the river,
have her crouch down,
put her feet in the water.
She doesn’t want to put her feet
in the water. I insist.
She puts her feet in the water.
It feels good, she says.
I know, I say.
I walk out into the middle of the river.
The current is strong.
She says that if I drown,
she can’t help me.
I tell her I won’t drown.
We had two family members drown.
She looks down at the water.
I wonder if she’s thinking of them.
Ron Riekki’s books include My Ancestors are Reindeer Herders and I Am Melting in Extinction (Loyola University Maryland’s Apprentice House Press), Posttraumatic (Hoot ‘n’ Waddle), and U.P. (Ghost Road Press). He has edited or coedited eight books, including Here (Michigan State University Press, Independent Publisher Book Award), and The Way North (Wayne State University Press, Michigan Notable Book). Right now, he's listening to Hildur Guðnadóttir's "Bridge of Death" from the Chernobyl score.
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