Published on Academy of American Poets (

Still Life with Invisible Canoe

Levinas asked if we have the right
To be        the way I ask my sons
If they’d like to be trees       

The way the word tree
Makes them a little animal
Dancing up and down
Like bears in movies
Bears I have to say
Pretend we are children     

At a river one of them says
So we sip it    pivot in the hallway   
Call it a canoe

It is noon in the living room
We are rowing through a blue
That is a feeling mostly 

The way drifting greenly
Under real trees 
Is a feeling near holy


Copyright © 2015 by Idra Novey. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 26, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“As a child, I played in the woods and pretended they were a city. Now, I sit in my hot apartment with my children and pretend we are in the woods. Meanwhile, the birch and maple trees I once played beneath are disappearing as the planet gets warmer. The more I thought about those vanishing trees the shorter this poem became.”
Idra Novey


Idra Novey

Idra Novey is the author of several novels and poetry collections, including Exit, Civilian (University of Georgia Press, 2012), selected for the National Poetry Series by Patricia Smith, and The Next Country (Alice James Books, 2008).


Date Published: 2015-06-26

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