Day I Rescued Kenny from the Tualatin River, OR

Scott Starbuck

Image of Scott Starbuck

Scott Starbuck

Crawdading off the dock at Cook Park,
I heard one of the Meador brothers ask
"Where's Kenny?" as we all looked at bubbles
where he had been.
 
"He can't swim," offered someone.
I leapt to the edge of the dock
and waved my nine-year-old hand along
until my fingertips felt something
 
in the muddy current
which gripped me as I raised him
to surface, and we hauled up his
gasping and coughing frame.
 
"I nearly drowned," he eventually said.
"I couldn't see anything."
Kenny sat on the shore above
reflecting like a Buddhist monk.
 
We continued lowering bacon-
tipped hooks on lines
and filling jars of small
lobster-sized tails to fish with.
 
Later, his mother gave us a pizza
as a reward, and we laughed 
and joked as the young do
before they understand the long silence
 
of many times there was no hand up
or rescue, and can never be. 
 

Day I rescued Kenny From the Tualatin River, OR was selected for MSUL’s themed call for work about Water, in coordination with the MSU Broad Art Museum’s fall 2023 exhibition, Flint is Family in Three Acts, featuring the photography of Latoya Ruby Frazier.
This text was selected by the MSU Short Story Dispenser editorial review team.

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