The Assiniboine

for RH

The Assiniboine River is a tributary to the Red River

so you can see where this is going.

The water started in North Dakota,

but found itself here,

under the bridge, in downtown Winnipeg,

to see her.

The water couldn’t see what they did to her,

at the river’s edge.

Muddy there, past the footpath. Grasses trampled. Gravel.

The sound of her voice echoing.

But then they slid her into the water, as if she weighed nothing at all,

and her hair turned darker still,

weighted down with it,

deep, dark ropes against her body.

Bruises, blood, her body battered,

now swept up in the water.


And down.

Down to where it’s silty, the water holding the memory

of North Dakota,

of ice at the lip and deeper,

to where the cold becomes cold

rather than an approximation of it.

But then the surprise of her head breaking

the surface of the water.

Her body leaving the water upstream, quietly,

into the dark of night

where the only sound is her shallow breathing.

The water holds the form of her body,

knows the shape of her cupped hands

pushing against the current.

But the water cannot see what they do to her


when they find her at the edge.

And down.

Deeper, then deeper still.

Deeper than the water knew a body could go,

the submission of sinking.

But yet.

She drags herself again from the water in resignation,

as if already missing the darkness of its depths,

knowing what awaits her at the footpath.

The sun rises and the water turns slightly less chilled

with the wan November gold;

the current rushes.

The water cannot see the girl covered

by strangers’ coats and taken away from the Assiniboine

and further into Winnipeg.

The water does only what water does—

trickles, or tumbles, or trembles.

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