From Susan Paddon's first collection of poetry, Two Tragedies in 429 Breaths (Brick Books).
Two legs deep in the water, there was this girl, Maria, beside her brother, fishing. She—the sister— held a blanket so that he wouldn’t drown. Before drying him off, she checked his scrawny body, big head, for leeches. And he hardly noticed her there among the brambles, the bracken. They walked along the train tracks home, single file together, as lovers do in tired moments, kicking up dust, both of them, deliberates. She, there to keep him company, not to tell the others he needed her.
This is the first of five poems in a series dedicated to Maria Chekhov, keeper of the archive. Read the second poem, Belaia Dacha.