Iris Ann Moulton

We Would Come to the Edge
Every week of every summer we would walk down to the river, my sister and I. My mom called it a creek. She is from the south, and has family there even still, but we are from the west, my sister and I. And then once we saw it, The Mississippi River. And we knew that what we had back home was not a river to them, maybe, but it was a river to us, because it was the most water we could find in one place that wasn’t just standing still. And every week of every summer we would walk to the river to look for a dead body. I always pictured it as a woman, with maybe red blonde hair that I would later find out was called strawberry blonde, and I thought that sounded delicious, and it made my body warm that anyone could be named for something so sweet and wild. My sister, I have never asked who she pictured finding, but I bet it was the same woman. My sister and I often have the same nightmares. We would come to the edge of the river that ran beneath a road in our neighborhood and we would look at first as far as we could see along the north and then we would cross the street and look along the south. We would check under the road, the part of the water that was hardest to see and is the most likely place where someone would want to hide a body. There was never a body. Sometimes there would be a volleyball, or a plastic bag that we would open, ready to scream no matter what was inside. So we would just drop a leaf in on the south side and run to the north side and watch it pass. I still don’t know where the river leads, but I know we were both imagining sending our leaves and sticks very far away, carrying imprints of our fingers. When we were probably getting too old to walk there because we could almost drive, and too old to go together because we were making friends outside of the family, we went to the river during the hottest part of the summer. There was nothing on the north side, but on the south side of the river was a bald, cold, headless body of a chicken. We knew it came from a grocery store, and we knew that a whole bird cost a lot of money, because we remembered our mom talking about it every Thanksgiving. We weren’t sure who had decided to throw it away like this. But it was naked, and dead, and ours. We nestled on the bank as the day washed into evening and pulled it to the shore, and poked it with whatever we could find, and didn’t say a word.
Iris Ann Moulton was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. She now lives in Lawrence, Kansas, where she is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing and works as the Assistant Poetry Editor for Beecher's.  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming from elimae, Pebble Lake Review, and Cider Press Review.

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