After it came, my mother went out and walked the trail
along the river in the high morning heat. This place used to be only
weeds and garbage. We called it hobo heaven because of the train
that ran here, and all the veiled spaces to hide a refrigerator box.
Now, everywhere, it was blooming and oblivious: juvenile poplars
bloated with leaves; peaceful joggers; lovers holding hands.
She sat at a bench overlooking the water, a brown froth
swirling with plastic debris. She hung her head, wondering
how she could tell us the news. “Whatado? Whatado?”
Birds asked from the trees. “Screwed! Screwed!”
Other birds replied. She looked back to the river, thinking.
That’s when she saw the two mallard corpses, floating
towards her on the river’s surface, feathers black and filthy
as an engine block. As they passed by, falling into the distance
like dreams, she struggled to make out the thin white rope
of their necks hanging beneath the murk.