How I Know the River Is a Woman/ poem by Stephanie Kendrick

If you ask her if she would rather stay put
she will laugh at you in birdsong, drowning
out your thoughts that she might have a choice.

She moves at the will of wind and rain, gives in 
to the slopes of land made before she was full.
She thrashes in response to thunder, spills—

her movement flows into the flora 

she feeds.
She is home to life she did not create, all
of its shit, tears and rot becomes her &
she does not stop carrying it all. 
If you ask her if she would rather not
hold this life that land can’t handle, she
would laugh at you in gasps for air, resisting

the intensity of her own erosion, leaving behind 
everything too heavy for the current, leading
the rest into the sea; escaping through her own mouth. 

She dances under sun and moon— provides
reflection to those who know how to look.


This poem was originally published in 
Women Speak: Volume 6, Sheila-Na-Gig Editions


Steph Kendrick is the Major Unusual Incident Coordinator for the Athens (Ohio) County Board of Developmental Disabilities, a Village Councilwoman in Albany, Ohio, a community organizer, and a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Her very tolerant husband and beautiful son keep her grounded and offer peace of mind to work on one of her great loves—poetry. Stephanie is the author of Places We Feel Warm (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2021), and In Any of These Towns from Sheila-na-Gig Editions. She is editor of “Periodical Poetry”, and co-host of Athens County’s Thursday Night Open Mic. Her poems have appeared in Sheila-Na-Gig Online, Gyroscope Review, Northern Appalachia Review, Poets Reading the News, Still: The Journal and elsewhere. Visit her website at

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