Aug 10, 2010


Written by Joe Wilkins

Read by Aaron Anstett

An inmate at the Winnebago County Jail escaped for a number of hours before north Iowa authorities captured him.
— KTTC, NBC affiliate, February 12, 2010

When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night be gone?
— Job, 7:4

There was a time along the river, 
                                 in the snow and cold. I didn't know
where I was going. I had come crashing 
through river birch, willows, 
                                            sumac that tore my feet.
I had no shoes. My pants were a problem. Baggy, striped. 
I took them off. Everything, 
                                                       I took it off. There 
along the frozen river I stripped bare-ass naked –
fat carp were iced into the falls, some big dark owl came over 
quiet as suffering Christ,
                                                                  and I was my body, 
like a boy out all day and who cares how cold it is.
My breaths steamed out in chuffs and huffs,
my tongue tasted weeds and water, 
                                            black leach-track stones 
up from the river's muddy bottom. Beneath the ice, 
even there, the river knows. So I followed.
Wherever it was going.                                 
                                 Red flags trailing from my blue feet. 

Out the country club's picture window, I guess, someone 
saw me. Or my bleeding. 
                      And now I sit here warm as toast,
my body lost, toeless feet black as stones. 
Why? What's it worth?
                                                       I tell you every night 
I dream the Winnebago River, long wing of ice
and leaning penitent trees. Miracle carp 
                                                                  unfroze, flopping 
bare-assed in the snow. Sirens. And this time I stop, 
still as river birch: Above me my owl god 
of flight and silence, 
                                            and having with my own eyes seen, 
I am Job. The falling snow? Not silver coins or rings, 
not some thousand-thousand sheep.
                                 For as they rush out –
rifles, bullhorns, blackshoes, blackshoes –
on my rucked and filthy skin 
                      there is this light-shot skin of snow.