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Watershed – Erin Calabria

We belong to this flow, this flux, this weltering.

We taste the minerals of the land, all iron and salt, runoff spiced with macadam, corn silk, cemeteries. We savour it all, swallow it slow like every sweet we ever stole from a candy jar.

I do not need to be loved is something humans say and never mean.

In winter, we split half crystal, half liquid ache. We freeze so cold, to touch us would be like burning, the way it felt after hours spent skating in the snow, to wrap hands, numb and throbbing, around cups of instant cocoa. Sometimes above, bladed feet still thrum, crisscross, crisscross, and we well, we sigh, we shudder, pooling against prisms of ice.

No river simply washes a thing away. Water holds. Water carries.

In summer, we twist hooks away from catfish jaws, somersault with otters, tickle the paddling feet of ducks. Sometimes above, laughter bubbles in sunlight, a rope swing floating back and forth. When they splash below, we tug just a little at their ankles – the way they used to tug our hair – just to remind them these currents of ours could braid them down, down, down, through silver weed and minnow clouds, then out and out to the sea.

I do not need to be loved is something rivers say and know will never matter. What river is not beloved?

And what river does not ask: how large would you become, how much would you contain, if only you followed water, if only you left something else behind? Something like love? Or fear? Or any other kind of drowning?

Not that we can answer. Not that there is anything left for us to become except more and more of this flood.