When we part the brush and rush the bank
the bodies bob faceup and facedown
in the mountain stream like apples
in a Halloween game. Our headlamps paint
skin bluer than it really is, but it’s blue.
Holding the neck of who’s closest we lift her
to the shore. I start my ABCs. Thanks
to the frigid water half her symptoms
are real. For the other half she whispers
answers to me. In five minutes we have
all the victims on land, even the one
who proclaims himself dead. I represent
mouth-to-mouth by pinching her nose
and saying breathe. I know it’s wrong,
but I sneak peeks at the fullness of her
lips, their dark hue. I pinch. I say breathe.
We’re doing all this because that boy
drowned and might’ve lived if
his family had had the right training.
She tells me she’s breathing again.
I take her pulse. It’s weak and thready,
she whispers. I pretend I’m ripping off
her clothes and wrapping her in blankets.
When she comes to, she doesn’t have to
whisper anymore. In her normal voice she asks
what happened, though this too is scripted.