They Don’t Even Know the Name of the River

By CL Bledsoe

Before he was discovered, before the press exploded things, before he was a name, he was just a smell on the interstate. He was drift-body, private, lump in the eddies, flesh swelling out. The discolora-tions around his neck, wrists and ankles were of no interest to any-one. Is it worth the loss of so much to gain discovery? He couldn’t say. He has no tongue, no ability to produce comprehendible speech. If he could speak, would he? This is the question that sets their pens jittering. They imagine his head twisting up out of the water, the bits that used to be lips opening. They imagine profundity. This is where they’ve got it wrong. Someone told some men to come and take him. He’s not even in the river, now. He’s in a hole somewhere. But after they took him, the smell lingered for hours. This was his speech, but none of them were there to transcribe it.