The Undrowned World
BY AUSTEN LEAH ROSE
For fourteen years, my sister and I sailed down a river.
She was starboard; I was port. Together, a complete cosmology.
We sailed through meadows of buckwheat and yarrow.
We sailed through valleys of fog.
Sometimes, I went mad and my sister transcribed my gibberish with both hands
on a piece of willow bark
before sending it away in an osprey’s beak.
Sometimes, I braided fish bones into her dark hair.
We were trying to establish a point of view, the way water establishes itself
at the base of a waterfall.
At night, I slept and she watched the stars, or I watched the stars and she slept, or we both
watched the stars and neither of us slept, or the night was cloudy and there were no stars.
I said, moonlight is a form of radical empathy, and she said, distance is the color blue,
and I said, watching an airplane take off is the best cure for depression.
God is a mountain in translation, she said,
and I thought about this for a few days, ultimately nodding in agreement.
At one point, she had a son,
and, like a butterfly, he was born with the memories of our forgotten childhood.
When she said sister, I said, my body like a boulder against your bright pain.
When she said love, I said, a type of photograph.
It went on like this for hours. I know that I know nothing, the river said.
Every morning, we watched the sunrise over the undrowned world.
Every morning, we reinvented the river.