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Holly Day

The Man in the Water


They bring up the body and I don’t know who it is

I don’t want to know who it is, so I don’t look.

One white arm, tangled in tree branches, a bicycle tire

a blue shirt, I don’t want to know.


When I was a teenager, I was friends with all of the homeless people

used to walk downtown feeling like I was surrounded by family, knew all their names

never worried about the old man on the corner getting cold at night, or wondered

what they all did when it rained. I just didn’t think about it, figured

since they were grown-ups, they must know how to take care of themselves.


Now, as an adult myself, I’m afraid to get too close

because I do wonder whether they’ve had dinner

where they sleep at night, what they do when it snows.

I’m afraid to look at the man wrapped in duckweed and twisted rebar

afraid I’ll catch his face as they zip him into a black plastic bag

afraid I’ll know exactly who it is they’ve dredged from the river

remember exactly where we were the last time we spoke.