There are some spots in the Mississippi River, right outside our front door here in Rock Island, Ill., where the bald eagles are finding their dinners these stark and nasty days of winter. They perch themselves in the sad, crooked limbs near the water and they keep a close watch on what's just below the surface. They swoop down and clamp when they see something they like. They never get under the water, down to the bottom. It's where we found Rock Island-native and Maine-dwelling Ryan Flaherty a few weeks ago. We dredged him out of that mighty river's cold floor, down where all the secrets and regrets are thrown from bridges. He lives beneath the surface, as the songs he writes as Muddy Ruckus show. He finds something akin to pleasure in the undercurrents there.
*Essay originally published January, 2014