braided stream

“You step in the same river only once/for an instant. Panhandle time with/the bruised fingers of what might have been.” It always brings a fresh look, this tendency certain rivers and creeks have to branch and interlace. The Platte, for example, rebraids in its shallow meander channel after every flood. Technically speaking, sediment is brought downstream by stronger currents, and it falls when weaker currents present themselves; ephemeral subchannels open, sandbars emerge. The stream braids water back and forth, across accommodating land, until it reunites. One term for this phenomenon is intercommunicating. Intercommunicating is what moved Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser to write their small book of poems, Braided Stream: A Conversation in Poetry: it is the best map of a river’s multiform channels forming a net across the land. “Only today/I heard/the river/within the river.”

Luis Alberto Urrea