Autumn, with its entrance to a new year of school, always feels to me as if it’s moving us into new stages and phases of life. And this week’s poem, a sonnet by Robert Petrillo, captures a similar sense of forward momentum – both literal and otherwise. I love how this poem is grounded in simply told action, and opens into more overt metaphor only in the final couplet.

Petrillo is a former English teacher who has taught and occasionally written poetry for many years. Most of his inspiration comes from simple observations of mundane events and the occasional flight of fancy. He lives in Westbrook.

Poets, please note that submissions to Deep Water are now open. Deep Water is especially eager to share poems by Black writers, writers of color, Indigenous writers and other underrepresented voices. There is a link to submit in the credits below.


By Robert Petrillo

When I was five years old I learned to ride.

My bike had four wheels then – two were trainers;

they bolted to the back wheel on each side

and kept me stable, free from dangers.

At six years old my seat moved up a notch.

With legs extended fully now, my feet

just barely touched the ground. As mom would watch,

my sister pushed me up and down the street.

No extra wheels now balanced me in place;

my forward motion only was the force

that held me upright in a state of grace

(and her swift tread and guiding hand, of course).

Without my knowing, she let go one day,

and I’ve been moving, ever since, away.

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Independence,” copyright © 2020 by Robert L. Petrillo, appears by permission of the author. Submissions to Deep Water are open now and through the end of November. For more information, go to

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