The Red River Whispers and Hums

Lindsey Childs

There were so many errors
in the newspaper obituary that no one
knew it was my mother
who had died.

Momma, who had lived off the river, off the sand and rust-tainted water that fed
her cells, a second circulatory system that had suddenly
collapsed. A silent implosion.
Bone, hair, fingernails and flesh all made
liquid, absorbed and gone. Nothing to save, nothing
to bury or scatter.

With closed eyes, I see her
on the porch, wrapped in the coppers and golden hues of her pashmina shawl,
watching the rain divot the ground, caused by a cascade of droplets
hoarded and then released by the eaves troughs.

In the days that follow the service, silence turns us feral.
I hear my sisters quibble over who will keep
the hand-painted conch shell, the lace-trimmed umbrella,
the good stemware. Fingers grasping, seizing, curling under
like dead spiders as they try to pocket the pieces
of our mother. The sounds of their territorial snapping
mar the peacefulness that comes with being
swallowed up by the sweet and sticky darkness—treacle transformed
into a July midnight.

Momma, trackable even in death,
her ley lines to me, to my sisters, used
like morse code—her love learned by rote, her deep-seeded tenacity
tapped out by the wind.

The Red River whispers and hums while I sit on Momma’s purple dock chair.
I taste the Red’s tang on my lips and fight
the compulsive urge to dive into the black
and blindly grope for the shards and strands
of my mother’s life, like shiny pond stones hidden
in the ancient muck of the river bed.

Lindsey Childs lives, writes and works in Winnipeg. Earlier this year, Lindsey had her first reading at Aqua Books alongside British Columbia poet, Barbara Nickel. She would like to dedicate her first 'big league' publication to her friend and mentor, the late Michael Van Rooy. 

“It's Canadian, feminist, and one of my favourite things ever.”

—bucketofrhymes, "29 Amazing Literary Magazines You Need To Be Reading", Buzzfeed Books

Room relies on subscriptions from readers like you. Help us continue to promote and support diverse women and genderqueer authors and artists by subscribing today.


More from the Reading Room

Currently on Newsstands

  • Queer Issue
    Room 41.3, Queer
    Edited by Leah Golob

    In this issue:

    Adèle Barclay, Joelle Barron, Nicole Breit, Mary Chen, Lucas Crawford, Jen Currin, Pamela Dodds, Jane Eaton Hamilton, Jess Goldman, hannah harris-sutro, Leah Horlick, Sam Jowett, Ness Lee, Annick MacAskill, Alessandra Naccarato, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Marika Prokosh, Amal Rana, Siobhan Roca Payne, Leah Sandals, Hana Shafi, Arielle Spence, Samantha Sternberg, Sanchari Sur, K.B. Thors, Corey Turner, Jackie Wykes