Skin Canoes

By Carolyn Forché b. 1950 Carolyn Forche
Swallows carve lake wind,
trailers lined up, fish tins.
The fires of a thousand small camps   
spilled on a hillside.

I pull leeks, morels from the soil,
fry chubs from the lake in moonlight.   
I hear someone, hear the splash, groan   
of a waterpump, wipe my mouth.   
Fish grease spits at darkness.

Once I nudged a canoe through that water,   
letting its paddle lift, drip.
I was sucked down smaller than the sound   
of the dropping, looked out
from where I had vanished.

Carolyn Forché, “Skin Canoes” from Gathering the Tribes. Copyright © 1976 by Carolyn Forché. Reprinted with the permission of Yale University

Source: Gathering the Tribes (Yale University Press, 1976)

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Poet Carolyn Forché b. 1950

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

 Carolyn  Forché


Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1950, poet, teacher and activist Carolyn Forché has witnessed, thought about, and put into poetry some of the most devastating events of twentieth-century world history. According to Joyce Carol Oates in the New York Times Book Review, Forché’s ability to wed the “political” with the “personal” places her in the company of such poets as Pablo Neruda, Philip Levine, and Denise Levertov.

An articulate . . .

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SUBJECT Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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