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Desire Drowning
By Danielle Vanpoucke

I consider them 

Find a flat one 

she says  

throw the flatness  

against the horizon of the river 


Pick it up, she whispers, sounding grim 

I listen, look up  

to the wooden swing and the hanging rope 

that carries bodies into the water 


I crouch, throw it  

parallel to the gently streaming water 

The rainbow-white stone 

becoming part of the current  

for a short, short moment 


It sinks only a few feet from 

the riverbed 

Too close to me 

To the wet pebbled boundary 


I know I should dive 

Should not hesitate 

Not stretch out the in ev i ta bil i ty 

of becoming heavy with wetness 

But I am afraid 

I breathe




I jump in 

Not in a cannonball, but some clumsy, unsure 

Spead                                                         out 



I sink, heavier than ever 

Water pressuring my lungs 

as I breathe it in 

Throw my hands down and out 

at the mud and pebbles 

     r  o  u  n 

a       me       d 



I desperately grab handfuls 

Make a vessel out of the fabric 

of my shirt, clutching it from the bottom 

Holding it up to my heart 


I swim against the pressure 

Breach the surface, it 

doesn’t feel like I'm breathing  

But I ignore that, ignore the coldness 

sticking and wetness that doesn’t dry 

away in the summer sun and ignore 

the way my chest no longer raises 


At the house, someone’s house, 

my grandpa’s or aunt’s or great aunt’s or cousin’s 

I spread out the river floor that I collected 

Consider the colors 


The pebbles are brown and gray 

Small enough to nearly be sand 

Nothing like the rainbow-white 

That I threw away 


The pebbles chant in a heavy whisper, saying 





That they’re tired of sinking 


That they’re pieces of me 


I sweep the pebbles off the table 

in a violent rush of rejection 


I fall  


to my knees 

the river still drowning this lifeless body 


I am at the bottom 

of the  



I never left 


I never breathed  






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