New Poem by James Provencher

Nonesuch River

By James Provencher

We walk the bank of the Nonesuch River
through Scarborough Marsh heading toward Pine Point.
We wind with the tidal stream through grey-green
raspy tussocks and pungent mudflats.
Where the ground goes flat in salt marshes
creeping and laced with creeks seeping
down to the sea, it billabongs and oxbows.
And you are with me walking nowhere
along the Nonesuch talking about nothing much.
I know now the river is us lost
in its sluggish confusions, some brackish
and muddy delay before surrendering,
lost in turning back upon itself in
circling hesitation where the land comes
to its knees flattening on its own slow
flow down to the sea, lost in coiled
channel labyrinths, a tangle of ropy
second thoughts and third thoughts caught
fast in the dark knot of deadwater pools.
Come to the last marshes and grass quivers,
the salt sharp and sweet, the pine islands
harboring deep scents and shade, the Nonesuch
loses its urge. It will be like this one day.
Even rivers that come rippling full-bodied,
brimming to their mouths, pushing into rising
tides, send up standing waves that curl,
whitecap, crane and bend back, wavering before
the merge with anything so large or final.

5 Responses to New Poem by James Provencher

  1. David Daniel says:

    This paints a precise picture of the Maine river — of any river, actually; let’s say the Merrimack — and that twisting journey to the final merge.

    A poem loaded (as Frost would say) with ulteriority. The lines:

    And you are with me walking nowhere
    along the Nonesuch talking about nothing much

    are a perfect fractal of the entire poem

  2. Jason Trask says:

    That is an excellent poem. By the way, when I was a kid and we would drive over that river, the sign that said “Nonesuch River” always blew my mind. I thought it was claiming that river below us didn’t exist, and I assumed it was an example of Maine humor.

  3. James Dalton Byrd says:

    You have returned to me a slice of my childhood. The Neches flowing into the Gulf of Mexico may have been warmer and the trees different, but the smell of salt spray was there and the voice of the Gulf was singing the same siren’s song.

  4. byron hoot says:

    Even rivers that come rippling full-bodied,
    brimming to their mouths, pushing into rising
    tides, send up standing waves that curl,
    whitecap, crane and bend back, wavering before
    the merge with anything so large or final.

    is an excellent summation to a meandering, precise poem. a “nonesuch” poem.

  5. Sandrs says:

    You once again melt my heart with your way with words. “And you are with me walking nowhere…”a master at picking the right words to make the images dance.

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