Reverse Pietà

        on the Illinois with my son
                       missa pro defunctis

By Hannah Thomassen

It isn’t so dramatic after all
you simply cease to be   easy
as falling off a log   to settle deeply
into duff.

We knew it would be big
winter water swift and high
I was in the boat   then I wasn’t
went down instead of up.

There’s more to water
for you to know. 
I thought    like you    I understood:
read a rapid   pick a route   go.

I didn't know how we belong   to water.
How it sweeps across your face like silk
like nothing            like air
you don’t need to breathe.

I was eddied out and gone
by the time
you reached the shore
to lift me up    lay me out ­­

             the river streaming through my hair
             the water soft
             the wonder in your face    like mine
             the moment you were born.


Hannah Thomassen lives and writes in the forested foothills of Oregon’s Cascade mountains. Her work has appeared in Big Bridge, Presence, Windfall, Verseweavers, Voice Catcher, and two anthologies from Wising Up Press. In previous lives she was first a teacher, then an RN. All her lifetimes have been instructive.