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Woman in a Boat by K. E. Allen

Winner of the 2004 PSA Chapbook Fellowship

Woman in a Boat
by K. E. Allen, selected and introduced by Robert Creeley.

Edition: 500 copies of the winning books were printed by the Prolific Group and designed by Gabriele Wilson.


Heroic is not a simple word to use these days, and yet, especially given its inherent pun, it feels right to use it here. The story of these poems undertakes a life’s familiar passage with great clarity, with great heart.

—Robert Creeley

Woman in a Boat

Splashes of light
illumine the sunken wall
of a closed-down seaside motel.

Shore lights, tinted red, flash
through rents in the window shades,
brushing faded yellow bedsheets.

The light turns, to orbit around
a woman stepping into a boat.
Knowledge is faith, says Augustine.

All the light sinks. Starfish are eating it.
They fan their arms like wings, their mouths,
barbed and fish-bright. They suck the light

with salt-sharp tongues; they are silver kites.
The woman swing the oar. It is not the light,
star-eaten, whirling, that helps her see.

Shoal water, mudcommon, circles
the shrinking rope of starfish,
their phosphorescence pearling off

the rock she rows toward, then away from.
Belief is perception, argues the woman.
She rows against the inward tide

of the black shoals. Nodding,
the woman in the boat
hums a little nothing, a song.

All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

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