Sinuosity: a found and erased poem

A river’s sinuosity is its tendency to move 

back and forth across the floodplain, 

in an S-shaped pattern, over time, leaving behind 

scars of where the river channel once was.


Hydrodynamic forces on a rotating planet mean 

a stream will flow in a straight line only 

if some strong physical structures constrain it.   


A stream     constrained by linear hard banks       

develops large vertical sinuosities      undercuts 

the banks.          A flat, hardened bottom          will 

enlarge     horizontal sinuosities     reach laterally

erode riparian materials. Constraining both         sides 

and bottom        builds up momentum and kinetic 

energy        manifests       intensified        turbulence 

downstream             Sooner or later the self-organizing 

turbulence of a flowing stream breaks down        


                                           straight-line structure. 

Poet and essayist Maureen Scott Harris is the author of three books of poetry: A Possible Landscape (Brick Books), Drowning Lessons (Pedlar Press), which won the 2005 Trillium Book Award for Poetry, and Slow Curve Out (Pedlar Press), shortlisted for the 2012 League of Canadian Poets Pat Lowther Award. Waters Remembered, a chapbook, will be published by paperplates in fall 2016.