Matthew Nienow

O Anchor


Dark charms the anchor in its house

of water and what type of bottom
it drags, for what type of work, for you,

with your need to stay in roughly the same place

for a night, with your questions of how
much to let out

and how well your windlass works

and how you feel sometimes hauling
200 foot of chain by hand in the dark,

wondering what in your life sent you

here, where the world exists as much
below you as above; where you are

as much the chain as the chain.


“O Anchor” first appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal and was reprinted in Best New Poets 2012.

Matthew Nienow’s most recent chapbook is The End of the Folded Map (Codhill Press, 2011). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Narrative, New England Review, Poetry, and many other magazines and anthologies. He has received fellowships, grants, and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Elizabeth George Foundation, Artist Trust, and 4Culture.  He lives in Port Townsend with his wife and two sons, where he works on boats and other things made of wood.