Under the Brush

Christine Degenaars

She remembers April, her blank
face open, honest as a wound. She remembers

Chief Carr and what he said
and all the neighbors who believed the same thing,

their eyes blooming from their half-petal lids
through water and whelming worry.

She remembers the night before, its tongue licking
her skin in almost-spring, the soft residue of pollen

it left in her hair, and the humidity, thrown off
by Saw Kill Creek like so many sallow sheets

from an attic mattress. Like a maid, the wind
had swept in, picking them up and carrying them

through the back door to hang
between the trees. It had left the river free

to burst open and his heaving body flung
against the shore in swelling cartwheels

of moss and muck. He had swallowed the bank’s
newborn weeds and ferns one by one,

she was sure of that. The flood warnings came.
Then the flood and Carr was right

in the middle of it all, his taillights beaming
through the mist, holding the fog in fistfuls

over the river’s head. He kept them there,
those searching ghosts, all through the night.

Even after it, she still pictures them there
each time she walks the creek’s hem.

Even after the long, thin dash that child’s body made
when they pulled her out

from under the brush—her mouth, wine-toned
and swollen with the first words of spring.

Christine Degenaars has had work published in several journals, including Driftwood Press, Hermeneutic Chaos, and Red Paint Hill. She is the recipient of two Bishop Kelleher Awards and was an honorable mention for the Bennington Award. She currently lives in New York City.