Poem: The Color of a River

Dedicated to the St. Croix.




2 minute read

Spring water (Photo by Gary Noren)
Spring water (Photo by Gary Noren)

they’ve said,
the color of this river,
from tannins in headwater bogs—
But instead I’d call it red:
the scarlet red of cardinal flowers peering from
the shaded slopes, or
that rosy coral of a
native brook trout’s belly band,
thin sliver of life held gently
in a hand and then released again into
a cool tributary stream,
or even that near-florescent orange-red
of old jack gone to seed in his pulpit,
redefining earth tones from beneath
his emerald hood

Fierce yellow—that’s the color of this river,
the yellow of an eagle’s gaze
taking our measure from the vantage of
a lofty pine, or the comic yellow legs
of small green herons hunting minnows in
the shallows of backwater bays;
and beyond to unimagined hues of blue,
to shorter days of ice beneath a pale winter sky,
the glacial blue of pressure ridges,
midnight blue of moonlit shadows on the snow,
then ah, in spring, that saturated indigo
refracted from the wings
of buntings just returned,
before the blooming flox in June cast
violet upon the shores

It’s our own Van Gogh’s palette
shining through the night reflecting stars in
azure skies,
and shifting with the progress
of a painted turtle
swimming underwater,
stroking out of shadow into light

If this is tea, well then,
it’s tea with honey
Not one color,
but all colors
Not one river,
but all the rivers large and small:
every feeder stream and
every temporary water course
for snowmelt or for rain,
that remakes and renews
this river through our days
in wakefulness and sleep;
even now, as we speak,
and in so doing,
remaking and
renewing us
along the way


4 responses to “Poem: The Color of a River”

  1. Deb Ryun Avatar
    Deb Ryun

    Lovely start to my day. Thank you Laurie, Gary and Greg

  2. Jill Shannon Avatar
    Jill Shannon

    Laurie.. truly beautiful. Thanks for posting, Greg

  3. Jim Almendinger Avatar
    Jim Almendinger

    Very nice. Makes me want to go brew a cup of St. Croix.

  4. LisaSlisa schlingerman Avatar

    Thanks Laurie
    All of those colours and more…


You may republish this article online or in print under our Creative Commons license. You may not edit or shorten the text, you must attribute the article to St. Croix 360 and you must include the author’s name in your republication.

If you have any questions, please email greg@stcroix360.com


Creative Commons License Attribution-ShareAlikeCreative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike
Poem: The Color of a River