How to Forget a River

M.K. Foster

—any river, take the one you drove over and over as a child, never
knowing where it began or ended even after you knew enough to chart
the state’s watershed like a starved tree, your eyes closed to that river
in which you imagined drowning again and again because your car
was going to skid off the bridge and sink and your seatbelt was going
to jam shut, or else because you were going to open the car door, roll
out over the ledge, and let the current have you, take you as it did the
day you watched a search crew stretch a net across one of the cataracts
to catch the body of a boy lost fishing with his father, watched these
men dredge the same black-heavy logs from the water for hours: would
they do the same for you? you wondered. And even then, would you want
to be found or just in love with the moment they almost, but couldn’t quite,
reach you? It’s a question of salvation. Why hide? To be found. Why be
found? So you will have a new reason to drown—daughter, you must feel
this now below your gut, know these, the only answers to the only
question you will ask the first time you bite your heart in your mouth
and mistake it for your tongue: you forget a man as you forget a river,
by leaving their touch, leaving what they have damaged to dry in the
sun, then leaving, your body having finally learned how to abandon
what you have escaped with your life: running as though burning—