Radoszyn, Volhynia 1906 Athens, Ohio 2010
This much we knew from the start – forever was
The first time I understood what losing you might mean
not a possibility. And still I let you meet me in the
was that day on the bike path when the gray-haired man
evenings, still I walked slowly to make sure you
stepped in front of us and asked for help rescuing a woman
wouldn’t miss my progress to the barn. Some
from the river. You were too much yourself to say no, and I
nights you risked my father’s notice to catch me
too much myself to voice my fear that this was a trap. We
before I reached the end of the dirt path, taking
stopped, kickstanding our bikes just off the path. The man
the metal pails from my hands and stacking them
said she’s down this way and you nodded and turned back
on your shoulder. I wonder now, sometimes, what
to me and said you should stay with the bikes. Later, you
we must have looked like in silhouette, walking
would tell me how you’d been thinking hard at me stay up
together through the wide front door.
there as you followed the man through the brush and trees
and down to the river.
I was content to have you sit nearby as I milked,
I paced in the grass, straining for your voice, for any sound
the swollen udders warm in my hands. My own
I could trace back to your body, until the fact that I couldn’t
body curved forward, arms and shoulders washed
see or hear you weighed heavier than the possibility of the
in the neutral heat of the heifer, the grass she’d
bicycles being taken, heavier than the threat of being hurt
grazed in all day a top-note to the earthsmell of
myself. I moved past the first line of trees, stepped out
her sweat. And outside that pocket of energy, I
to where the land sloped down toward the river, where
felt you. Breathing. Waiting.
I could see you at the bottom, helping this stranger pull a
woman out of the water and onto the muddy bank.
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Jennifer M. Colatosti holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from Ohio University and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas, where she teaches literature and writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The MacGuffin and Southeast Review, among others.