One Poem by Christianne Balk

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As the spring stream rises beyond its braids
and ice melt overflows its slowly snaking banks
and the current gouges gravity’s deep
sprint line of stone resistance and tightens
channels through the sand and gravel layers,
undercuts fir roots, pushes trunks aside,
rives the bouldered clay restraints and slices
straight through the unsuspecting village green—

my daughter, tied-in by wide, trained hands
of hovering experts, spins the canted spokes
of her new titanium alloy wheelchair.
She thrusts down the hall’s careful ramps, shortcuts
stands of tall, shocked legs stumbling after her,
whirls, speed-sweeps thresholds, and surges on.




Christianne Balk’s poetry collections include The Holding Hours (University of Washington Press), which includes this poem, plus Desiring Flight (Purdue University Press) and Bindweed (Macmillan). Her work has appeared in Cirque, Harper’s,, Prairie Schooner, and other publications. She lives in Seattle, loves the Anglo-Saxon rhythms of everyday street talk, and travels frequently into the Cascade Mountains with her husband and daughter.

Photo of icy stream by Mike Laptev, courtesy Shutterstock. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.