I woke this day beside the two-way Wye,
at peace with wars too often waged inside
between the push of how, the pull of why.
The river, calm against the ebbing tide,
displayed an ease I had not seen before,
and I was easy too (or close, at least,
for one with Janus perched above his door).
Amazed at how my inner struggle ceased
I sighed like Wordsworth silently in awe
of equilibrium, of harmony,
of questions dueling answers to a draw.

If wonder weren’t the very best of me
I would (I think) avoid the how and why
and leave the muddy conflict to the Wye.


Mike Ruskovich lives in Grangeville, Idaho. He taught high school English for thirty-six years. He and his wife have four children.

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5 Responses

  1. James Sale

    Beautiful, Mike, love it – an easy and rolling grace about it. I am assuming this is the English/Welsh river Wye that I have visited myself on several occasions, and not some American Wye that I know nothing about?! Not that that alters the beauty of your poem. Well done.

  2. James A. Tweedie

    Sometimes a break in strict form works wonderfully, as with your peeling off the last line of the final quatrain and turning the final couplet into a triplet. I was not only impressed with the concise summary in the finale but loved the earlier phrase “questions dueling answers to a draw;” something I have done my entire life and continue to do. Somehow we humans have an innate sense that we ought to be able to see the moral world in black and white but something in us blurs it into many shades of gray . . . and those who believe that they do see it in black and white can’t seem to agree with each other as to what is white and what is black!! Unfortunately such disagreements over alternative views of the world carry profound consequences which all too often generate hate, distrust, division, aggression and worse (as per your reference to the subject of war). The temptation to avoid the “how” and “why,” “leave it to the Wye,” is very tempting, but, in the end, naive and often suicidal.

    Beautiful poem, well written, well phrased, and cogent, indeed.

  3. Mark Stone

    Mike, Hello. 1. I would enjoy the poem more if the end rhymes in the first four lines were not so similar. With the “I” sound and the “ide” sound so similar, you don’t have the satisfying sound of a strong ABAB rhyme scheme. 2. I also think the poem would be stronger if it had more concreteness and specificity to the story. I read the poem and I’m left thinking: What was the inner struggle about, and why did it cease? Did it cease just because the narrator is next to the river? 3. I may be obtuse, but I don’t understand “the push of how, the pull of why.” It sounds good, but I think of asking how and asking why as complementary means of learning information, not as opposites. 4. I would put a comma after “ceased” and after “me,” since those appear to be the final words in dependent clauses, and also seem to be at natural pausing points in the poem. 5. The iambic meter is perfect. 6. Line 11 is superb; I could see in my mind a Q and an A engaged in a duel. 7. Overall, the poem does a very good job of painting the scene at the river and a creating a mood of calmness. 8. I enjoyed the poem.

  4. David Hollywood

    A lovely pleasingly calm poem which if as James asks above is the same Wye I also know as a beautifully rustic setting which I am happy to remember through your prompting. Many thanks.


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