A daily poem #281 – October 28, 2010

A poem
by Sasha Steensen

The Undertow

I am shown
a generosity
so muddied
at the muddy bottom
of a question I forget to ask
until it’s fished out
but bloated but
in the manner of a net
a web of causal connections
attached to its corners
gently moving over
the surface of the water
how come the road
couldn’t have stayed followed
by way of hollowed out
logs; paddles
made of pawpaw wood
rather than by the crows
alone to the moment
when the Monongahela
the Allegheny
the Ohio meet
I hate the underside
of an idea
but I like the underside
of grass that grows
and I’ve seen it from there
as if the water had suddenly
and then surged forth
from there
I can see a shoal
of tadpoles
drowning themselves
I hate the idea
of the Ohio
as a magic carpet
into the heart
of the continent
a great gift
of geography
a gleaming highway
carrying a tide
of settlement
and expansion but
I despise
the idea of the three rivers
as my family tree
their canals and
tributaries; branches
meeting later the Mississippi
by its side
for miles
until along comes my
baby floating
in a basket down
the Colorado
I despise all such
and the fact that I’ve never
heard steamwhistles
or boatmen’s bugles
I’ve never traveled
aboard The Messenger
The Telegraph
The Gladiator
The Ohio Belle
or The Great Republic
nor have I put my foot
in the Ohio
anymore than you
and the Niagara
I abhor the Niagara
in winter the
difficult beauty
of its frozen falls
and all they’ve
come to represent.

~ by Chris Hibbard on October 28, 2010.

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