I doubled back across the dirt-brown water
to join my brother a bit downstream where
he’d washed up at the bend, his quivering frame
splayed upon a smooth palette of wet shale.
His tibia bobbed garishly in the open air,
no longer sheathed in flesh. With his consent
I thumbed the bone back into place,
pushing it with some resistance into a pocket
of frayed muscle, his pink expression tensing.
I crafted a splint from two sturdy lengths
of salvaged bark, cinching them astride
the lesion with shirt sleeves, long and seam-torn.
We heard the leg crackling as we crept together
in torturous increments up each shallow hill,
his weight slumping over me as we struggled.
When we reached the house, our father
met us in the yard, shoving me aside
to rush my brother to the doctor. Left alone,
I sat against the woodpile, letting the strips
of split-birch prod my spine, questioning
if I should’ve left my brother back at the river.
M. Drew Williams currently lives in Omaha, Nebraska. His poetry has appeared in publications such as DIALOGIST and Literary Orphans. He is the author of the chapbook No Ghost Goes Unnoticed (Leaf Garden Press, 2016). He is an MFA candidate at Creighton University.