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.
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.
Deeper, then deeper still.
Deeper than the water knew a body could go,
the submission of sinking.
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.