Up to their waists, the river is calm
enough to be false.
The older one, lips just-fuzzed
warms a bit of water in his mouth
before guiding an indigo braid
over the younger’s shoulders.
For he had been shivering.
He had been shivering
all night. For the body, touched
by newer terrors, becomes a wing
attempting, not flight, but to fold
in a way that makes
flying, when it comes, a kind
of severance. The older boy cups
his full hands over the Braille rising
on his friend’s neck, like a beggar
asking for a lack he cannot keep.
Peter? the younger one whispers,
I’m ready. & the raised palms
open. A gasp, then black
water shattering over his back
like bullets—or wing bones
from tomorrow’s shadows.