This week’s poem, W. Kent Olson’s “River Grass,” finds its speaker in a canoe and gazing down into the water. I love this poem’s luminous and vivid imagery, and how the line breaks pull us along and forward with the momentum of a strong current.

Olson, whose “Circuitry” ran in Deep Water last year, is retired president and chief executive officer of Friends of Acadia. He was named a 2021 Maine Literary Awards finalist for his short work “Common Cause and Other Poems.”

River Grass
By W. Kent Olson

quickwater, n. The part of a stream that has a strong current.
— Merriam Webster

Off my canoe gunnel I peer, through panes
of fluid glass, two-feet down to blades
of grass. Each lean strand’s an undulation
over the coarse sand, and every clump
sunlit is doubled for its squid-shadow,
wriggling black on tooth-yellow gravel.
Being strong and laminar, the flows force
the filaments parallel with gradient,
obliged to the current, the expedient
to which they, and I, must hew.

Even as the day wanes and darkens
and the river slows and deepens,
and the green oscillation, though still
below, fades from view, I steer to stay
the runnel, our common course of travel.

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. “River Grass” copyright © 2022 by W. Kent Olson, appears by permission of the author.

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