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The River That Meanders
Kenton M. Stewart

Oh, the river that meanders has an aimless kind of flow…
in the sense that such a river seems to not know where to go.
Is it right or left, or left or right? Who cares? And I don’t know.
Yet it’s that lack of clear direction that the river seems to show!

Oh the river that meanders suggests a valley with low slope,
as it twists and turns and cuts a course that offers little hope
of telling why it went that way… an aquatic king of grope.
For the river, twisty river, looks a bit like some blue rope.

Oh the river that meanders has a kind of strange appeal…
with its artistic looking patterns… but believe me they are real.
Now you may think such rivers with the land have cut a deal,
for they take from one another, but yet they do not steal.

Oh the river that meanders lets you know where it has been
with its separated oxbows and its bank-eroding spin.
Yet that slowly moving river hardly ever makes a din,
and the river is a lifeline for feather, fur, and fin.

Oh you river, twisty river, tell me what will be your fate?
Will you twist yourself apart? Have you ever had a spate?
Those sandbanks on your inside bank don’t care if you are late.
So flow and let flow river, your meanders are just great!

about this poem

The author composed this poem in Russia on 6 July 1999, while flying over Siberia (from Krasnoyarsk to Tunguska, Norilsk and Khatanga). In a letter to us he explained:

"A few days earlier, while flying in a jet from Moscow to Krasnoyarsk, I noticed many interesting meandering streams from the airplane window. Indeed, although I had seen such streams before in North America, it was the undeveloped nature of the Russian terrain that seemed to enhance the beauty of the meandering streams.

After seeing many more meandering streams on 6 July and thinking about the biota associated with such streams, determining the direction of flow from the position of the sandbars, wondering about the interesting geomorphology and the give and take of such streams with land in more gently-sloping terrain, I was inspired to write some poetry aboard the plane that day. Incidentally, the term spate, for streams, is used to characterize a dramatic and large rush of water that produces a major disturbance to the stream."

The author, Dr. Kenton M. Stewart is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, State University of New York at Buffalo.

Photograph:  Aerial view of the Mississippi River by William Keys (USA).

Poem © Copyright 2005 Ecology Online Sweden.  All rights reserved.







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