Michelle Menting (Artist-in-Residence, 2017)

A single woman in a canoe in foggy conditions

NPS Photo

by Michelle Menting

Though I didn't bring any ornaments
to this lake, the woods are full

of pines, their needles like tinsel
the cat drags to the floor, all scattered

light to light, too light to balance
my weight. I paddle against pucked-disk

waves. The tip of this peapod carries
a single pea: me. So out of tune,

a melody current of smirks and burps
beneath me, a joke as flow, what flow should be.

Trim the canoe, the park ranger says.
Use your backpack, a log, a rock.

The rocks are beautiful. I smooth
my hands over agates on Superior's shore

and leave them nestled as eggs in nests,
too small but certain in pockets of sand.

And driftwood is but ghosts—the weight
of ghosts of trees, their dismembered limbs.

Too light, too light to balance my weight
of bones in this floating simulacrum skeleton of tree.


About the Artist

Michelle Menting is the author of the full-length poetry collection, Leaves Surface Like Skin (Terrapin Books), and two poetry chapbooks. Her poems, essays, and short stories can be found in Verse Daily, American Life in Poetry, The Cimarron Review, The Offing, The Southeast Review, Midwestern Gothic, Harpur Palate, The Texas Observer, and DIAGRAM, among other places. A recipient of scholarships from Sewanee and Bread Loaf writers' conferences, Michelle has been awarded for her written work with residencies from Hewnoaks Artist Colony, Crosshatch/Hill House, and the National Park Service, where she served as Poet-in-Residence on Isle Royale National Park (July 11th to July 26th, 2017), an International Biosphere Reserve.

- Adapted from Michelle's personal webpage, where you can go to see more of her work


Last updated: September 6, 2021

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