It was as close as a man can come to knowing what it's like to give birth. I came out of the brown river with the baby and we both worked for air on the bank. Our trip through the storm drain left my clothes in strips and my shoulders raw, but the boy was okay as far as I could see. He looked to be no more than six months old but he was looking at me like a person would after years of war.
"Let's find who you belong to," I said. I didn't look in the direction of the moiling creek where his mother might be; I looked back up toward the bridge I had jumped from -- as if she might have been there too, on the other side, and the baby had just slipped from her arms.
I thought at the time I jumped that I had to save the child before he went under the next bridge, but I couldn't save him or me either. We both went into a dark I knew to be the end. And then we were out.
How do you know it's the same life you get back when something like that happens? There are births and rebirths in dreams, and death is there too.
It was the baby being so sure about everything that set me at ease. A dragonfly came and lit on his toe, and he looked at it like it was part of his foot.
I picked him up and pulled us up through tree roots and slick clay to the back lawn of a big house. At a wide back window a woman, lounging in a robe inside, turned and looked when I tapped. She looked like I was there to haunt her.