A poem a day: How to Make a River


Another element of synchronicity today I’ve been writing/thinking about didactic vs democratic approaches to “place making” and place writing. Today’s prompt is to write a didactic poem. Not a finished piece – tonight I’ve got to tweak a paper I’m giving tomorrow in order to make it longer – but it’s a start.

How to Make a River
Select a spring on Chelburn Moor
fed by rain, sleet, snow. Sluiced through the sweet purple of heather.
Tug at gravity, make small flumes, pull the rill to a beck.
Flatten the grasses and allow free flow,

Then admire your handiwork, allow your river to meander,
bend several bands of U into an oxbow
then pull back. Scatter fistfuls of pebbles, add to the sediment. Skim stones, bits of slate roof tiles.

You can build dams, culvert lands,
race twigs, bridge roads, escape tides.
Remember, though, you are as ephemeral as these rising, wandering waters.


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