'My seven siblings and I sheltered ourselves inside these labyrinths'

entry picture

In Heather Cahoon’s poem ‘Shelter’ she manages, with simplicity and the use of deftly selected detail, to capture the mood of childhood delights that, in the manner of such things, always seem on the edge of danger. One is transported to the invention of children who seem to find a certain pleasure in the complex combination of being lost and being hidden at the same time. 



by Heather Cahoon


We wove hip-high field grass

into tunnels


knotting the tops

of bunched handfuls the drooping

heads tied together.


My seven siblings and I

sheltered ourselves


inside these labyrinths

in a galaxy of grasses.



American Life in Poetry is made possible by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2020 by Heather Cahoon, 'Shelter' from Horsefly Dress (University of Arizona Press, 2020.) Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2022 by the Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska

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