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 underwater and I've seen it from there blossom as if the water had suddenly stopped 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 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 undertows 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.
Copyright © 2010 by Sasha Steensen. Used with permission of the author.
Sasha Steensen is the author of several collections of poems including House of Deer (Fence Books, 2014). She teaches at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Date Published: 2010-11-03
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/undertow