gorge

Gorge (French for throat) most often refers to a deep, steep-sided, rocky river valley, such as the Columbia Gorge of the Columbia River that forms the border between Washington and Oregon, or the Royal Gorge of the Arkansas River in Colorado. Gorges are considered to be smaller than canyons, with walls more vertical than those of ravines, and are sometimes the result of cave collapse or of the downcutting power of the river being greater than the processes of valley-wall erosion. Wallace Stegner, describing his exploration of Glen Canyon and the Colorado River in The Sound of Mountain Water, notes that “the most innocent opening, apparently a mere keyhole of an alcove, may be the door to a gorge a quarter of a mile deep and heaven knows how long, sometimes rods wide, sometimes less than a yard. Often the water has cut down irregularly, so that the walls waver and overhang and cut off the sky.” Gorge may also refer to a narrow defile or passage between hills or mountains, or, infrequently, a mass of something obstructing a passage, especially a mass of ice blocking a river.

Kim Barnes

The girl, dear to me now as a daughter, brought fresh clothes for me, a cane I needed badly, plus a set of wooden teeth so I could smile without looking like the Grand Canyon or the Kali Gorge.

— Charles Johnson, The Middle Passage

More from Kim Barnes

» see all 23

Related entries