Ascophylum is the scientific name for a seaweed common to the Gulf of Maine, also known as rockweed or knotted wrack. This week’s poem-with ducks and fog and seaweed and a biblically named boat-reminds us how easy it is to miss such small and momentous occasions if we’re not paying attention.

Gary Rainford lives on Swan’s Island. He is the author of two poetry collections, “Liner Notes” and “Salty Liquor,” and his poems appear in a wide range of literary magazines, journals and newspapers. His work, he writes, “is shaped by tides, saltwater, and music.”


By Gary Rainford

A plump of ducks appears

at the shoreline, marching

one by one from the tall grass


like mechanical-ducks

at a carnival shooting

gallery rigged to waddle on


revolving wheels with sprockets.

Sunlight burns off

thin fog, gilds Mackerel Cove.


Low tide. Rockweed.

Mary Joseph hitched

to the town float. If you blink,


you will miss the rapture,

each duck launching

into a ripple, swimming away.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is Portland’s poet laureate. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2017 Gary Rainford. It appears here by permission of the author. For an archive of all the poems that have appeared in this column, go to

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