Print by Lola Donoghue
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Not Knowing the Hudson
I don’t know what you were fishing for,
or if you were,
and I don’t know how it was you came to fall,
or if you did.
The last I knew you were shooting dope,
and that was cool.
We all were.
Your sister told me
while, without asking,
cooking my eightball.
But it was cool.
Then we smoked
until we dripped
the night she told me.
I did not know you
the way you know
one whose loss you grieve.
I knew you
the way I know a boy who wrestled Saddiq
for his medicine
beneath a window
where a man twenty years older lowers envelopes
in exchange for cash and companionship.
The way I know the rats along the Hudson
encircling the boatyard at dusk,
larger and hungrier than cats,
barking threats through glowing eyes
and slick ropes of tail.
The way I know an asthma attack
beneath the falls,
current rushing me from the crags,
forgetting how to float.
The way I know the backless black surface of the river
on moonless nights
in rudderless search for air.
I don’t know if you knew me,
or if accidents happen,
and I don’t know when I started writing this,
The last I knew
I’d been sitting at a spiritually messy desk
for twenty years,
forgetting you had drowned.