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You wonder about your brother’s jump
clogs attached, over the railing
into the rushing faucet of
width, depth, and pitch.

He swam last summer in the river your family has visited for
fifty years, head turning easily with the crawl
out to the Big Rock
like it was walking. That simple.

But this is no simple matter—
the Firebird spinning out
towards him full speed—
he could not
consider, so acted
The highway beyond dusk
offered no shoulder and
he lept in
finding no bank.

Newspapers quote the new girlfriend,
theater cohorts, people he charged no rent,
mayor of the small town where he
worked and retired and joined the city council and began
the theater company. They quote everyone but his kids 
and brothers who grew up together.

You want to hold onto him
even as he tangles in some watery hole,
missing still. You cannot
grab a hold of a leg,
an arm—
that point has passed
long grass waving downstream,
water you could not witness.
Its width shook with surprise to receive him,
an unexpected guest who stayed
against his will.

You do not know in darkness
and measure the struggle
by how you have known him. Yet
you’d like to think of how he loved 
his own river
the one you grew up with,
his return a single gulp.

Laurel Benjamin has an M.F.A. from Mills College and teaches English at urban and diverse Laney Community College in Oakland, California. She has translated the German poetry of Heinrich Heine. Her poetry and fiction has appeared in Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down: An Anthology of Women’s Poetry, California Quarterly, The Indian River Review, Bay Area Writing’s Digital Paper, among others. She is a member of several writing groups. She lives in El Cerrito, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

© 2020, Laurel Benjamin

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