Bodies in the Hudson

Anna Davis

Here, we sit. It’s the helm of a fresh day, the edge of an unsteady winter. We sit under cloudless sky and we stare across murky water and we cannot speak, for there is nothing left to say. 

We do not enjoy each other’s company anymore. But, still, we chose to be here, together, in silence. 


-I’ve a question.


-How many bodies do you think are in the Hudson?

-Like, hidden in the Hudson? Or died and stayed in the Hudson?


-I think anyone who’s ever died ends up in the Hudson.

I began this while sitting in an apartment in Hoboken, watering plants for friends who have since moved upstate. They just needed an excuse to give me some money and a place to myself while they were away.  Somewhere quiet, with sunlight and a view – somewhere that could be enjoyed alone. I wrote it surrounded by plants I was scared to kill, at a desk that wasn’t mine, in clothes I didn’t change for two days, after eating 2 undercooked poached eggs. I wrote this furiously and messily. I wrote it while sweating and I wrote it alone.

The wind blows, and we do not touch. We have not touched each other. We have not even looked at each other. We do not want to be here, and we have to be. 

-I think that’s a stupid thing to say.


-It didn’t answer my question.

-How do you expect me to answer? Do you want me to dredge up every body? Or do you expect me to drain the water until there’s nothing left but sand and silt and bones?

-No. That’s not what I’m saying.

-Do you want me to sit on the river floor? Count every bone on my hands and knees?


-You’re asking me to do the impossible.

-I’m asking you to guess.

-That’s even stupider.

The whole day I wrote, and I wanted more, and I couldn’t find anything else to say. The silence and these futile efforts and all the wasted light made me angry. I stayed angry the whole walk home. And standing on the threshold, facing her—with nothing but a line of questioning and self-driven ire—a rift was created. 

 I couldn’t handle the conversation, couldn’t handle trying to find answers, to find speech, when I had spent eight futile hours with dry pen and page. That Monday night, I barely said a word, and in that silence grew caverns. There were no more paths crossed, no more fires in the hearth, no more green iris lights in flashes of half-closed eyes. And still—there was nothing for me to say. 

I do not think we recognize each other. We do not recognize ourselves when we are with each other.

And yet:

-I’m glad you came.

-No, you’re not.

-No, I’ve missed you. In a way.

-That’s it though, isn’t it? We just keep missing each other.

There’s a brick road down by the pier. It’s lined with trees on one side, and the Hudson on the left. Sometimes, when you walk down this road, you see things in the shadows that only nightfall can bring. There is a family of  rats that multiply from the bushes and run in a gilded circle. Sometimes the geese sleep all at once, never nestled together, with their beaks pointed north. And there is always old music carried in the air, though it plays from nowhere. Even though you used to walk down this road, hand and heart held, you now walk alone and sit on the driftwood of a small river beach, nestled into the curve of a road at the bottom of the city. Somewhere in here, you see purgatory.

When I began writing that day, these two were faceless. Now in them I see walls in my head and sewn lips. I see these distant friends and all the loneliness I’ve given myself like a gift. I need to say more, but I never find anything else to say. The words and I just keep missing each other.