The River in Which I Almost Drowned

by John McCarthy

Cold showers move the blood,
an injection, like milk spreading
through coffee, the billowing
visible through a glass cup.
I think of ice, warmth
transformed and the guard rail
giving way like memory,
the plummeting
into frozen river.
I tried opening the doors
like wings that failed
before sinking started,
the process of knowing
I will be buried
by what once unburied us.
My throat opened
for the rush, wishing
it was summer, I wanted
this bad luck to be warmer,
           and then deus ex machina,
but less mythical, less profound,
only an observation—
arms are the smarter wing,
keeping me from floating
or falling, pulling
me down or up,
wrapping the warmest blanket,
the pressure forcing the chest,
then the lips
that bring us back,
some frigid cough.


John McCarthy’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in RHINO, The Minnesota Review, Salamander, Jabberwock Review, Midwestern Gothic, and The Pinch, among others. He lives in Chicago, Illinois where he is the Assistant Editor of The Museum of Americana and Quiddity International Literary Journal and Public-Radio Program.

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