Poem: A Canoe of Wood

A Canoe of Wood

From the deep north words I come.
From the tall cedars and spruce old as time my ribs are bent.
From the peaceful land of Hiawatha I come.
Where the timber wolf and the great beaver roam free.
Where the wind whispers through the willows and her breath dances across
the needles of the pines, and the sound of the loon in the morning
mist is nature’s own voice to honor and behold, the wilderness.
To glide upon the waters I come.
As the gentle leaf which falls upon the stream.
The curved wood of my planks skimmers across the blue waters, within
my bark beats a heart.
From the white cedar bark I come.
By way of the sun and stars, under the shadow of the moon, across the
clear waters, beyond the distant shore.
I embrace those who travel with me, as the otter protects her own.
Great and many things have I known.
For I am the canoe of wood and the forest lives in me.
A beating drum will sound my twilight when the last purple sunset falls upon me.
The voice of “Keewaydin,” the great northwind, will blow across the cool w
aters and call to me, and thunder in the mountain peaks will echo the spirit of
“O’jibwa,” who will come for me under the reflection of the moon and the light of
the twinkling stars, to guide my proud wooden frame home,
to lie down in the deep north woods from which I come.

– Dennis Gantt

First published in Wooden Canoe,
Issue 73, February 1996


This article appeared in Wilderness News Spring 2004

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