George Washington Crossing the Delaware

by Wayne Crawford

I have never crossed the Delaware River nor stood in a row-boat. while crossing any other river. If I were crossing a river in a rowboat, I would never stand with one foot propped on the edge of the boat, especially an overcrowded boat. I imag- ine that if I were to cross a river in a boat, I might cross the Delaware River, and the waves of the river would rise and chop against my boat like those in this painting of “George Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze. In this painting, General Washington is crossing the Delaware on Christmas day. It is a windy, overcast day. Clumps of ice, the height of many of the people in the overcrowded boat, float on the surface of the river. A couple of men must use their oars to push these islands of ice out of the way so that the boat can move forward, so that the Colonists can surprise the English and Hessians and win the Battle of Trenton. It is Wednesday, almost 69 degrees where I live in New Mexico. On Wednesdays, I don’t cross rivers, not even the Rio Grande, which is a mile away and mostly dry this time of year. It’s the Christmas season here too. I’ve been looking in an art book, viewing all these paintings with water in them-slots of seaside scenes, picnics along the river, lovers caught in a rain shower, couples silhouetted against the ocean or dangling their legs in a pond. Today, I crossed the Delaware River. I could drown on a Wednesday afternoon and never leave my study.

Wayne Crawford was a poet and promoter of poetry in Las Cruces for many years until his death in 2011.  He worked to bring young poets and older poets together and was encouraging to all.  I feel that I made significant advances in my work due to the confidence I gained from his enthusiasm and support.

This prose poem, “George Washington Crossing the Delaware,” is from Wayne’s last book, Sugar Trail, published by Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders Press in 2007.  It is available on