Oyster Boy Review 11  
  April 1999
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» Levee 67


When Lizzie Drowned

Damion Higbie

Only her cousin, small and born without eyes, could stand
with his face toward the water.  He'd cock his head
when the boat made a pass through the shallows, listen
for the motor to bog, for the sunken end
of rope to do its work.  Then he'd smile, whisper:
Too heavy.  Must be a tree.

And that's how it came at me: a sycamore dying
in reverse, its black arms pushing
up from the bottom, tearing holes
in the hidden seams of our past—the way I'd pop the latch
on my bedroom window, take the small leap
from the roof to the ground, shaping that moment
in the air around a single breath.

How my legs knew when to run.  How they followed
their own electric course past Sharpy's Garage,
past Two-Mile Bridge and another block west
to her trailer.  Standing there, bleached out
by the Georgia moon, I'd wait for her to appear,
for that touch of her hand through the metal
screen, as if we could take turns giving in to the pressure.
First her gray half of the world, then mine.