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

calling for help
waving for help.


10 Responses to “lost”

  1. leslie said

    …go back to Leslie’s blog, and read the post that will go up in a few minutes. You are being tagged for a meme, you writer person, you!

    By the way, this piece was so good and so disturbing simultaneously, that I couldn’t respond to it. All that could be said, had been said.

  2. chandni said


    very well written, enought o upset me right in the morning :(

    these are exactly the kind of things I never want to imagine

  3. i don’t think i could have ever imagined something like this happening. it was both horrific and surreal. the woman sitting and telling me the story was so calm, and i had this sensation of growing anxiety and panic hearing her and watching the firemen. and the strangest thing for me was i was walking my dog, so after the ambulance drove off i left and continued to walk…on the return home i passed by the site again and there was “nothing” there. it was as if nothing had happened. i can never pass by this place without thinking about the events of that day. and the boy was just a child. so small. he could have been a friend of my sons. for some reason i feel it is important to recount his story and to not forget him. my heart aches for his mother.

  4. leslie said

    That place will always hold that memory.
    Your writing about it is valuable.

  5. I write what I write for the exact same reason you have written this incredible piece…because it is imortant not to forget somethings.

  6. leslie, i wish what you said, about the place holding the memory, i wish i could believe that too. but i think place forgets, washes over, blows away. i think only people remember, and then we too forget and are forgotten.

    and jane, i can feel in your work this yearning.(as well as in leslies, her capturing of memories in the hippie stories.) maybe this is why writing exists.

  7. Kamini said

    Beautifully written. It sent chills up and down my spine.

  8. leslie said

    Duane Kaiser has a post about topophilia on his A Painting A Day blog. I liked what he had to say about ‘place’.

  9. kamini,
    thank you so much for your comment. especially coming from you this means a lot to me.

  10. oh leslie,
    i feel like a spoiled child who has been offered candy but can’t quite reach it…
    i often think of place, and what place holds, and why can’t i feel the ghosts who walk among us. what duane says is of course beautiful, romantic.(and you are so very sweet to send me that link) so i end up feeling like a cynic, a non-believer. but we are always walking with someone’s dust stuck to our heels, always breathing in the air breathed out by someone else…but does it do anything? have we learned anything?

    it is true i am in a funk today. maybe i should read his post on a better day to see what i can find,

    thank you leslie,
    you are so sweet.

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