My mother told us not to touch the fishhooks at the very lip of the riverbank, right where the land met the water, as cloudy as a cataracted eye. I promised, in my solemn eleven-year-old way, that no, we would not go anywhere near them and yes, we would keep our shoes on. My mother and father had brought a picnic basket with grapes and assorted cheeses and crackers, and a large straw bag that carried a neon-green Frisbee ring, a football (my father, with all of his British-isms, had meant a soccer ball), an extra pair of sandals. Mom had splayed these out upon the picnic blanket from Santa Fe. The Hopi sun pointed in all directions. My sisters took the ball with the red-and-white hexagonal patchwork, and I wandered off with the Frisbee ring, tossing it in the air, catching it, toss, catch, as if rehearsing a circus trick, keeping an eye on my sisters. Mom and Dad needed to talk. No fishhooks. I perched myself on a small rock face as my sisters played catch and conjectured if one could walk across the Allegheny River if it were frozen over. I dropped the Frisbee in the river, but that is an object I do not mourn. What is lost in the past, echoing like a call in an endless cavern, is the sight of my mother and father’s last kiss on the banks of a river outside of the city of Pittsburgh, on the brightest day I can recall, before we dropped my father back at the first of his many subsequent apartments, as my sisters avoided fishhooks that could pierce the soles of their feet, as my Frisbee ring floated down the river, out of my grasp, to waft on and on, adrift in a waveless sea.
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