April 17, 2004
to your right
where the grass slopes to meet water
fire trucks and fire men
firemen in bright yellow suits, geared up,
red trucks, yellow suits, green grass
a woman. perched on the concrete ledge high above the water. she says a boy drowned. a boy was lounging on the grass. she saw the boy take off his tee-shirt, his shoes, his socks, she saw the boy walk into the water. she says she thought the boy was too hot and he wanted to cool off. she says she thought the boy got tangled in the weeds. the woman heard the boy call for help, the woman saw the boy wave for help, the woman watched people slow down, look, and walk by, pass by. the woman thought the people thought the boy was joking.
the firemen are on the grass. the firemen don’t wade into the water. the firemen amble around casual, slow. don’t they know time is everything? i hear a motor, i see a small boat, first i hear the motor, then i see the boat. four firemen are inside the boat, peering over the edge of the boat, searching, searching. one fireman sees something, and then the fireman has a pole, like the kind used to pick up garbage in parks. he plunges the pole into the water, the boat almost tips over. the three firemen hold onto the one fireman. he is leaning over, he is leaning over so far his arms, his chest, are in the water. he is using the pole to manoeuvre something heavy up to the surface. it is almost up, then it falls, it falls back under the water and the fireman starts over. he
snags it under the armpit, where the shoulder meets the arm, he pulls the body up, the elbow is loose, the arm swings back and forth and is a strange brown colour. the body is smeared with brown mud.
the fireman pulls the boy up and out of the water. he puts the boy on the grass, he gently lays the boy down on the grass. the boy is so small. brown sludge covers his blue jeans. the fireman drops to his knees and leans over the boy. his mouth is over the boys mouth, blowing again and again and again. the fireman blows and blows, it seems he blows forever, i am sure the fireman is too late, there is no way the boy could still be alive, but the fireman keeps blowing.
the other firemen pull the one fireman away. he has to stop, give it up, it is over. no breath.
the body is taken away in an ambulance. no siren.
imagine, you are a boy
you are twelve, maybe thirteen
imagine you are a boy and you are hot
(it is, after-all, a hot summer day)
you see the slope of the earth
you see green grass meeting cool water
you are a boy
swimming through water
tangled in weeds