Statue in the Shallows by Rebecca Leet






Odd. Just plain odd. No other word for it.

It’s hard to see, against the backdrop

of beech and brush at the edge of the river.

Fisherfolk stare across the water—pondering


why a statue would be planted in such a spot.

Two reedy posts for a base, a torso in the mold

of a bloated football, the top an L-shaped pole

slightly angled. Odd spot for artwork—waterfowl


are the area’s main visitors. Mallards fly low,

leapfrogging each other. An osprey jets down,

hooks a fish, leaves. Every 30 seconds,

a cormorant slides feet-first to a watery landing,


like a baseball player trying to beat the tag

at third. Sounds are few, faint: plop of a lure

breaking the dull green surface, soft rhythm of paddles

as kayakers mosey downstream. In two bends


they‘ll spy the iconic obelisk of the Washington

Monument. The only other urban inkling,

now and then, is a silver Boeing 757 lumbering

toward a landing—like the cormorant, feet-first.


The statue is tiny compared to bronze equestrians

who inhabit parks and traffic circles across the city;

curiously, they include Joan of Arc. Someone

with a strong arm—and stronger conceit—might hurl


a rock across the Potomac at the statue; it would fall short.

That thought takes off instantly as frawk, frawk

breaks the stillness, the statue sprouts colossal wings

and, graceful as a ballerina, the great blue heron lifts skyward.



During a Washington-based career in politics, policy and news, Rebecca Leet has been widely published and quoted in newspapers, magazines, and books. She turned her pen to poetry in 2015 after 40 years as a journalist and author. Her first poem was published in Passager in Winter 2017. She lives in Arlington and draws much of her inspiration from nature, whether in her backyard or idling along the Potomac.

Image: By Walter Siegmund – Own work, CC BY 2.5,

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