Currents by Allison A. deFreese

I have known too many
who have drowned—
the brothers down the road,
tanned and warned
of the Marais des Cygnes’s
twisting eddies,
their inner tubes taken anyway
at the edge of town;
or the town teens
younger than a cicada’s cycle
dragged into brackish galaxies
while spanning the Kansas on a dare,
and college friends tossed
from their raft in rapids,
lost on the Kaw in Shawnee;
the divers sent to find them
said catfish bigger than men
swam the muddy bottom, fish
that might pull you under
if the river didn’t. And later
the ones swept away
from us with flooded lungs—
my father floating
in his hospital bed,
his bronchi branching
after hitting a final snag.

A 2021 National Endowment for the Arts fellow, Allison A. deFreese lives in the Pacific Northwest. Her work appears or is forthcoming in: Crazyhorse, Harvard Review, Los Angeles Review, Hunger Mountain, New England Review, New York Quarterly, Permafrost, and Quick Fiction.