Jun 19, 2015

POETRY FRIDAY: "One Boat, One River" by SC Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth

Thanks to Mary Lee at A Year of Reading for hosting Poetry Friday this week
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In the wake of this week’s heartbreaking events in Charleston, I have been thinking about “One River, One Boat,” a poem written by SC Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth. In January, Ms. Wentworth was supposed to read her poem at SC Governor Nikki Haley’s inauguration, but was omitted from the program due to “time constraints.” (You can read more about this here.) Since January, the exposure her poem has garnered has been enormous, and the praise is well deserved.

Yesterday, as I was reading online about the beautiful men and women who lost their lives on Wednesday night, one of my boys came up behind me. “Why are you reading about this if it makes you so upset?” he asked. “Because we can’t just ignore all of the bad stuff that happens and pretend it doesn’t exist,” I responded.

I have thought about his question ever since. My children are growing up in SC in a wonderful Norman Rockwell-esque neighborhood that I refer to in my head as a “bubble.” But down the road, in a city where we have family and visit frequently, yet another crime has been committed that is whipping the already agitated social consciousness of this country into a frenzy. I want to protect my boys from this type of thing, but at the same time I know that it is important to share and discuss it with them. They are 12, on the cusp of their teen years, with high standards of justice and a huge capacity to feel everything—love, empathy, outrage, sorrow, the list goes on and on. It is my job as a parent to channel this enormous ability to feel into an attitude of loving acceptance and a desire to BE the change this country needs as they grow and mature. So today our conversation will continue.  

Please take a moment and read Ms. Wentworth’s poem, which I decided was well worth a second blog post this week. The specific references to Charleston’s history are especially poignant today, as we are
“...huddled together on this boat
handed down to us–stuck
at the last bend of a wide river
splintering near the sea.”

One River, One Boat
by Marjory Wentworth

I know there’s something better down the road.
~ Elizabeth Alexander
Because our history is a knot
we try to unravel, while others
try to tighten it, we tire easily
and fray the cords that bind us.
The cord is a slow moving river,
spiraling across the land
in a succession of S’s,
splintering near the sea.
To read the rest, click here.


  1. Dear Becky,
    Thanks for sharing Marjory Wentworth's poem, "One River, One Boat." She certainly describes it all very well. You're right, it's a pity that they didn't take the time to let her read her poem.

    I pray for all people of all races and creeds who live on this earth right now that they also pray that we do what we can to make peace instead of war, to give love instead of hate.

    Celebrate you and all you do to help others.
    Never Give Up

    1. Thank you, Joan. I am praying the same prayer, my friend.

  2. What would we do without poetry to help us understand our crazy, mixed-up world, and to remind us what's beautiful about it too. My heart goes out to the victims, their families, and also to their neighbors "down the road."

    1. That is the magic of poetry, Michelle, Thank you.

  3. You are so right about how kids at that age have an amazing capacity to feel. I'm feel so horrible for Charleston and the families. How anyone can do such things to other people is beyond me.

    1. I don't understand either, Leandra. It is unthinkable.

  4. I love this poem... Thank you for sharing it once again, especially during this moment. We need to hear - and heed - the message of the pictures that Marjory so beautifully paints for us. The expression of the journey that we all share is powerful, profound, and passionate.

    1. Thanks, Ann. There is so much wrapped up in that short poem.

  5. Definitely worth reading over and over again.

    "huddled together on this boat
    handed down to us – stuck
    at the last bend of a wide river
    splintering near the sea."

    We've got to take down all that flag stands for (not simply the flag itself, but that's a start) and set that boat free. It's been stuck FAR too long.


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